What makes Chimera so compelling is that Wendy Lill has lived almost all the roles the play dramatizes: NDP critic for both culture and persons with disabilities, she came to politics after a career in community health care and as a reporter for the CBC.
This play arose from her experience as one of the parliamentarians who passed a Canadian law in 2004 concerning human reproductive technologies. She recalls being at a conference where a spokesman for a pharmaceutical company boasted about the array of new pre-diagnostic tests being developed to detect anomalies in fetuses. “I was sitting in this room with many people with disabilities and I realized that what he was saying is that quite possibly a lot of these people would not be around today. They wouldn't have been born.”
The ethics of stem-cell research—in particular the creation of crossspecies “chimeras,” the mixing of genetic material from humans and animals, is a hotly debated topic with political, scientific, moral and spiritual dimensions. While such experiments could hold the key to curing many diseases, to their detractors they conjure up everything from visions of divine retribution to sci-fi nightmares from B-grade horror films. To explore this controversy, Lill created a chimera of her own: a hybrid play that’s part Parliament Hill exposé, part examination of the efforts to regulate genetic engineering.