LAKELAND – At the end of July and in early August, tales featuring and written by Métis and Indigenous playwrights will take to stage several stages in the Lakeland.
The play ‘You used to call me Marie...’ written by Tai Amy Grauman, will return to the Lakeland as a full production.
Also taking the stage is the musical and dance production ‘Dancing under the 13 moons,’ presented by Kehewin Native Dance Theatre (KNDT) and performed by local youth taking part in a summer training program.
‘You used to call me Marie...’
Grauman’s play follows two souls through eight Métis love stories at eight distinct periods in history.
Moving through time and different lives, the audience watch as the main characters, Iskwewo, Napew and Mistatim, experience life and relationships before and after the colonization of Treaty 6.
Set to the sound of the fiddle, the storyline encompasses the rise of the Métis nations of the Plains, the effects of colonization and the ripples of the past into present day.
The play also features real ties to the Alberta playwright's own family – “the Callihoo women’s love stories, their fight for their people, as well as their resilient sovereignty as Métis women,” reads the play bio.
Grauman’s play is currently on a tour through Alberta with the performance making stops at Métis Crossing in Smoky Lake on July 27, 28, and 29. It will then head to Kikino on July 30, before stopping in St. Paul on Aug. 3 and Bonnyville on Aug. 4, followed by Fishing Lake from Aug. 6-7.
Admission for the performances is free. The production run time is about 50 to 60 minutes.
The St. Paul performance of ‘You used to call me Marie...’ is set to take place outside at the St. Paul des Métis - Francophone Cultural Centre, weather permitting. The performance will move inside the Centre if deemed necessary.
The time of the performance has not been confirmed yet, however the curtain time will likely be 7 p.m., according to Sherri Sadler, the marketing and communications coordinator with Savage Society.
Savage Society is a theatre production company based out of Vancouver that is supporting Grauman’s work.
Savage Society produces and promotes several productions annually that tell Indigenous stories based on myth, tradition, and the contemporary Indigenous perspective. The society was created in 2004 for members to produce their own stories as practicing Indigenous theatre and film artists.
Performances in Bonnyville
In Bonnyville, the play will take place at 7 p.m. at the St. Louis Parish. The Church donated the venue for the performance to the hosting organizers, Lakeland Society for Truth and Reconciliation.
The grassroots society has volunteered to host both the Bonnyville performance of ‘You used to call me Marie...’ and ‘Dancing under the 13 moons.’
Their efforts have included coordinating the funding, venue and volunteers to be able to host both productions locally.
“All of our events, our goal is to have them free to the public. So that means we're going to have to make sure that all our expenses are covered,” Corita Vachon, a member of Lakeland Society for Truth and Reconciliation, tells Lakeland This Week.
With support from the Town of Bonnyville and Métis Nation of Alberta Region 2, the Lakeland Society for Truth and Reconciliation was able to raise $1,000 to bring the Savage Society production to the community with no charge for attendees.
Now, the group is seeking volunteers to help greet people and hand out refreshments and light snacks on the day of the event.
“Last year, our grassroots movement began following the findings of the unmarked graves through radar penetration in Indian Residential School sites, and that stirred up a whole lot of emotions again. (There are) a lot of people that want to help and don't know how to go about helping,” Vachon explains.
Bringing the stories of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples to the stage is one way to educate, heal and begin the necessary steps of reconciliation, she says.
“I know the bulk of the healing has to be done from within First Nations and Métis and Inuit people who have been directly affected. But there are other ways that the rest of society can help, and one area is to become educated with the culture,” she says.
“Both of these theatre events will immerse you into the cultures and the ‘Dancing under the 13 moons’ for instance, will delve into storylines that centre on teepee teachings and sky teachings through dance and movement.”
‘Dancing under the 13 moons’
The local production of ‘Dancing under the 13 moons’ features five local youth who have spent the summer in a training program offered by KNDT.
The performance will take place at École Notre Dame High School on July 28 at 7 p.m.
Admission for the roughly one-hour performance is free.
Performers include Charles Cardinal, Garret Cardinal, Sekoya Weaselhead-Kehewin, Kimowan Weaselhead-Kehewin and Elizabeth Tucker.
All five dancers came in the program with little dance experience but wanted to learn more about their culture and traditional dance, states KNDT’s artistic director Rosa John.
“(The) Native youth spin a web of oral histories and ancient knowledge, that will leave the audiences full of delight and wonder,” reads a statement provided on behalf of John.
This will be KNDT 12th year of running the program, which includes training in powwow, contemporary and hoop dance.
Anyone interested in volunteering with Lakeland Society for Truth and Reconciliation can contact them through their Facebook page or email [email protected]