By Matthew MacKenzie

Credit: Johnathan Bartlett

Set outside the Buduburam Liberian Refugee Camp near Accra, Ghana, SIA is the story of a former Liberian child soldier who takes a UofA student hostage in a bid to have his sister removed from testifying as a witness at a War Crime's trial. The story examines the difficult but vital relationship between the Developed and Developing Worlds

In 2010, SIA won the Alberta Playwriting Competition's Grand Prize Category. The play subsequently received a workshop production in Toronto where it was called a "masterful hostage drama" by Toronto's Vue Weekly Magazine. In 2011, SIA received support from the AFA and was presented in New York City by the Bridge Theatre Company, where it garnered significant interest from the office of the Under Secretary General of the United Nations responsible for Children in Armed Conflict. SIA received its first two professional productions; by Toronto's Cahoots Theatre and Calgary's Down Stage Theatre, where the Calgary Herald gave it 4 Stars and said, "Sia is willing to travel to the dark corners of the heart, and doesn’t flinch when it comes to articulating difficult truths."

Production History

History of Sia

Credit: Mat Simpson

Credit: Max Telzerow

Credit: Mat Simpson


*** Winner of the 2010 Alberta Playwriting Competition ***

"Quite simply, SIA is masterful." ‘★★★★★’ Toronto's Eye Weekly

"SIA is as unforgettable as it is harrowing. Because of its unflinching honesty and its searing insights, SIA is a play that demands to be seen." ‘★★★★★’ Calgary Sun

"MacKenzie manages to tell a war story that’s every bit as horrifying as anything Hollywood dreams up when it throws $250 million worth of special effects at the screen." ‘★★★★’ Calgary Herald

Charles Taylor, “The Devil”

From 1989 to 1997, Charles Taylor was leader of the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL), a rebel group that fought in Liberia to overthrow the government of Samuel K. Doe. From 1997 to 2003, Taylor was the democratic president of Liberia. During his term of office, Taylor was accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity as a result of his involvement in the Sierra Leone Civil War (1991–2002).

Domestically, opposition to his regime grew, culminating in the outbreak of the Second Liberian Civil War (1999–2003). By 2003, he had lost control of much of the countryside and was formally indicted by the Special Court for Sierra Leone. In August 2003, Taylor left office after rebel forces had come close to entering the Liberian capital, Monrovia. In 2006, he was detained by UN authorities in Sierra Leone and then at the Penitentiary Institution Haaglanden in The Hague, to await trial.

Charles Taylor was charged with 11 counts of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and other serious violations of international humanitarian law committed in Sierra Leone from November 30, 1996, to January 18, 2002. The Prosecutor alleged that Taylor is responsible for crimes which include murdering and mutilating civilians, including cutting off their limbs; using women and girls as sex slaves; and abducting children adults and forcing them to perform forced labor or become fighters during the conflict in Sierra Leone. Taylor pleaded not guilty.

He was found guilty in April 2012 of all eleven charges levied by the Special Court, including terror, murder and rape. He was sentenced to 50 years in prison. Reading the sentencing statement, Presiding Judge Richard Lussick said: "The accused has been found responsible for aiding and abetting as well as planning some of the most heinous and brutal crimes recorded in human history."

After an appeal, an international war crimes court in September 2013 upheld the conviction and 50-year sentence of Charles Taylor for aiding rebels in neighbouring Sierra Leone, saying his financial, material and tactical support made possible horrendous crimes against civilians in West Africa.