Dying Hard

We were dying… Why’d they make the graveyard bigger?

A Vagrant Theatre Original Production

The Stories

In 1970s Newfoundland, three entire communities were dying out because their men had spent the last four decades working in the fluorspar mines under deplorable conditions that caused them to develop cancer, silicosis, arthritis and a variety of lung diseases.

Several of the last survivors of the town of St. Lawrence, NFLD, had their thoughts, fears, and desperate hopes recorded for posterity by a visiting professor from Memorial University, Elliott Leyton, and in Dying Hard, Newfoundland native Mikaela Dyke brings these voices to vivid life.

The show

has been touring since 2010, bringing these stories of strength and survival all across North America, winning awards and critical acclaim across the board.

The six characters Dyke presents in her piece – adapted verbatim from Professor Elliott Leyton’s published interviews – tell spectacular stories from their lives, cut short by the mines where they made their living wage. A father of twenty-one recalls Victory Day in Halifax. A wife details the illness taking her husband and brothers. A man, crushed working in the mines, cracks jokes about his pain. As these men and women grieve the devastation of their bodies and their community, they reveal the humanity behind an industrial carnage and present a timely cautionary tale amid ongoing controversy in Canada’s mining of asbestos, oil, and gas.