David Hein and Irene Sankoff, whose demonstrate won a Tony award in 2017, produced “This Is Canada Nice” final month. The tune celebrates the country’s pleasant attributes. A sample lyric: “NICE as the Rock and the Rockies, broad the prairie sky, as substantial as Niagara Falls — hey dude, check out out OUR side!” For the 90-next animated video clip, the pair teamed up with Vacation spot Canada, the country’s official tourism workplace Wanderlust, a structure studio in Halifax, Nova Scotia and a wide variety of Canadian personalities, like “Come From Away” solid members, an illustrious Quebecois drag queen and the country’s initially woman astronaut. (The latter types contributed their voices to the task.) The married pair, who are hunkering down in Ontario with their 7-year-outdated daughter, ended up sort ample to examine by e-mail the inspiration for the track as properly as why Canada is so gosh-darn agreeable.
Q: How did you occur up with the “pleasant” thought?
Dwelling in New York, we were being generally identified as the “nice” Canadians — our exhibit is frequently referred to as good — and it’s normally what some others assume of Canada. Essentially that we’re particularly polite. Nevertheless, when we begun seeking into it, we discovered that anyone has a unique definition — from caring about science and the setting, to our distinctive songs and foodstuff, to the bravery of welcoming strangers. We recognized that utilizing different definitions permitted us to rejoice Canada’s variety and all of the remarkable things about our nation.
Q: Explain your artistic process.
A: We begun crafting down anything we loved about Canada on Post-it notes all over our wall and then asked others what they beloved. Quickly, it took above the complete wall! We wanted the definition of “nice” to be handed from one particular human being to another, in a flowing form of poetry: obtaining the pleasure in becoming a member of BeaverTails [the restaurant chain that specializes in the eponymous pastry] and butter tarts collectively or celebrating the creation and innovation of insulin. We wrote a million verses, seeking to decide the best way to represent an complete place in 90 seconds. We also tried to make the tunes and animation design and style of just about every verse sense equally varied. The good thing is, we ended up thrilled to associate with Wonderlust, an amazing Halifax-dependent animation firm, and Hayward Parrott, an award-successful tunes producer. They aided us pack in as lots of Easter eggs as attainable, from a beaver reading through a duplicate of “The Handmaid’s TAIL” to a bagpipe player segueing the first four notes of our nationwide anthem.
We then talked about our desire cast. We wanted as assorted a group as feasible — people from across our region, persons new to our state, experts, artists, sports stars and every little thing in among — all passing the torch of the term “nice” to every other. We were being thrilled to operate with some of our heroes — Canadian icons these kinds of as [musician] Bruce Cockburn and Roberta Bondar, our 1st woman astronaut athletes like Angela James, “the female Wayne Gretzky” indigenous artists like iskwē and new rappers like Wolf Castle the wonderful Rita Baga from [“RuPaul’s] Drag Race” and Tareq Hadhad, a Syrian refugee who started a chocolate company here called Peace by Chocolate. And, of system, we introduced our brilliant “Come From Away” forged along for the experience. The most effective aspect was that in just this time of crisis, when so quite a few artists are out of perform, we got to make use of countless musicians, animators and performers, and produce a piece of art with each other.
Q: What information do you hope the track imparts?
A: When we 1st started, this was meant to be a piece that would encourage and inspire persons to go out and check out Canada. Though we can’t vacation now, we will in the upcoming, so right up until then this feels a lot more like a concept of hope. That when this will get far better, the things we all like will even now be there, and we can proceed to appear jointly, even from our homes and even if our definitions are various.
Q: Is the music an extension of “Arrive From Absent,” which centered on a Newfoundland town’s acts of kindness after the 9/11 tragedy?
A: We absolutely gave some winks to Newfoundland and the “Come From Away” neighborhood in the lyrics, “Nice as the Rock and the Rockies” and in the point out of “Kissing the cod au gratin.” But I also assume that when we to start with began researching kindness in Newfoundland around 9/11, it truly adjusted us. We have been far more open to sharing our home with people who have to have it when we travel, just as the Newfoundlanders did for us when we ended up there. We look at kindness as a way you can respond to darkness, irrespective of whether it is the tragedy of 9/11 or a pandemic — it’s how we acquire treatment of one particular an additional. So this feels far more essential than ever to celebrate “nice” tales and methods we can find frequent floor.
Q: How did you pick the Canadian emblems, these types of as poutine and the Rockies? Did any stop up on the slicing-area ground?
A: We place in as a lot as probable! Ketchup chips, the point that we invented basketball, wonderful ladies like [civil rights activist ] Viola Desmond, who someone ought to produce a musical about. And if we could not contain it in the lyrics, the animators did, like the CanadaARM. But there were so several we could not in good shape in, like celebrating some of our incredible internet sites — the viking settlement of L’Anse aux Meadows or skiing in Banff — or our fictional sites, like Eco-friendly Gables and Schitt’s Creek.
Q: Is Canada wonderful from coastline to coast or are some spots nicer than other individuals?
A: One of the French lyrics is virtually “from coast to coastline.” So sure, in quite a few means, it’s genuinely this sort of a wonderful put, from the prairie sky in Saskatchewan to polar bears in Manitoba. But then you go to a compact city like Gander [the featured location in the musical] and you find that it is the persons who are truly amazing. There was really a study completed of tweets by Canadians that observed that we generally use additional beneficial language and loads of hearts and smiley faces [than Americans]. Canada is not excellent nevertheless — there’s a whole lot we still will need to operate on — but at least we feel that we have the opportunity to be great. That we should to be. Ideally we strive for it, and we test to rejoice that element of us with the earth and welcome them in to investigate it.
Q: Why do you imagine Canadians are so wonderful?
A: We think awesome is often misunderstood. It is not weak or getting a doormat. It is on the lookout at the higher good. When we were in Newfoundland, we satisfied folks who were raised to believe that that if a stranger arrived on your doorstep, you welcomed them in, [or] if your neighbor wanted foods, you gave them fifty percent of yours. That’s how they survived their winters, by coming jointly as a community. And that’s how we’ll get via this. So we imagine it is not that all Canadians are so great, it’s that we all have that opportunity, and at times we just need a reminder that it’s inside of us all.
Q: Why is this information additional essential than ever?
A: There is under no circumstances a terrible time to celebrate getting great to a person an additional, but we believe it’s also important to don’t forget the bravery of niceness. In “Come From Away,” the persons of Gander had each and every correct to hold those people [passengers] on the planes. To retain that panic and anger locked up. But as an alternative, they welcomed them into their households. As [Gander Mayor Claude] Elliot says, “We commenced with 7,000 strangers on the tarmac. Middle of the 7 days, we experienced 7,000 mates. And by the conclude of the week, we stated goodbye to 7,000 spouse and children associates.” That is the toughness of niceness. They defused the problem and turned it about. They located methods to occur jointly with individuals of all races and religions, by recognizing that they were all in the same storm.[
Q: Where have you been living during the pandemic and how are you staying busy and sane?
A: We drove back to Canada from New York in March. We expected to be here a few weeks — maybe a month. And almost a year later, we’re living in a small town north of Toronto. It’s been quite an adjustment, but we’ve kept sane by trying to do some good — raising money, buying a 3-D printer for a young man who was making face masks and delivering as much PPE as we could source. Like many parents, we’ve had our challenges learning to home-school our daughter, though we’ve really had some wonderful times together as a family. We just built a tiny ice rink in our backyard for her to skate on. How Canadian is that? We’re lucky that we’re writers and can work at home. We’ve got a Disney TV movie we’re working on, a TV show we’re pitching and some new projects for the stage when it comes back. Because it will come back.
Q: Once we can travel again, are there parts of Canada you can’t wait to visit?
A: All of it. Our kid wants to skate on the longest skating rink in the world in Ottawa. And I [David] constantly desired to show her the northern lights I grew up with in Saskatchewan. Another person just established up a real-everyday living Rosebud Motel [from “Schitt’s Creek”], and we normally wanted to go to Green Gables in Prince Edward Island. And, of class, we simply cannot wait around to be back again in our theaters. But over all, we want to see our close friends in Newfoundland. A lot more than ever, it feels like we could all use a minor little bit of their definition of “nice.”