Marijuana has a long history in Canada, with the first records dating back to 1535 when Jacques Cartier documented observing wild hemp plants. The first known agricultural farming of hemp was in 1606 in Nova Scotia, followed by Quebec farmers harvesting cannabis for French and British textile exports. By the 1800s cannabis was also being promoted for medicinal use and was commercially accessible. However, that would change in 1923 when marijuana was made illegal by including it alongside opium, morphine, and cocaine in the existing Opium and Drugs Act.
Tea presents a musical reflection on the period from the 1930s to the early 1970s, beginning with a somewhat naive and innocent spirit and campy anti-marijuana propaganda films, through the counterculture that peaked with the “Summer of Love,” which then crashed hard into the escalating War on Drugs campaign. Tea is therefore a nostalgic walkabout across the dichotomy of drug prohibition, melodramatic fear propaganda, and population control versus personal freedom, psychedelic rock, and quests for spiritual enlightenment.
Commissioned by Land’s End Ensemble
Premiered June 8, 2019 at the Rozsa Centre, Calgary, AB.