George King is going places. Johnny Indian is haunted by where she’s been.
King (Chuck Holgate) is celebrating his appointment as an assistant bishop in the Anglican church.
Johnny Indian (Carolyn Hepburn) is a residential school survivor. She remembers King from the school she attended four decades earlier. Johnny confronts King shortly after a celebration of his appointment. She alleges he sexually assaulted her when she was a student. Johnny lives on the street, drinks and lost care of her child who was born with fetal alcohol syndrome. She wants King to acknowledge what happened in the past.
He agrees some kind of abuse happened, but is Johnny remembering what took place years earlier accurately? Is King, who participated in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, denying something he did?
Sault Theatre Workshop presents Drew Hayden Taylor’s God and the Indian Wednesday to Sunday at the Studio Theatre on Pittsburg Street.
The cleric wants genuinely wants Johnny to get help. He just doesn’t want to be the one to offer the assistance.
“(They’re) definitely not friends,” said director Randi Houston Jones. “It’s a very uncomfortable situation.”
Hepburn, dean of Indigenous education and academic upgrading at Sault College, worked with Houston Jones on Annie Mae’s Movement in 2006.
She calls Hayden Taylor’s script “challenging.
“For me it was an opportunity to utilize theatre as a way to share the story and continue the story,” said Hepburn during a recent interview.
“It’s not easy to admit what’s happened in this great country we call Canada,” she said of residential schools for Indigenous children. Canadians who have a “great sense of pride” about their country may still be dealing with what happened in those schools.
“When you lift that carpet up a little bit and you start to learn the true history, you realize there was a lot of atrocities that happened in our country and it’s something that’s not necessarily taught in any great depth within the education systems, although we’re starting to see a shift now, in particular the elementary and secondary schools,” said Hepburn. “I’m hoping that by providing different venues, different mediums, different ways to share this message that we create greater awareness and that we become more informed citizens. It really contributes to that truth and reconciliation. It’s a two-way street and people need to hear our story.”
Houston Jones likes to direct plays “that make people think and educate in a lot of ways about all different stuff that people don’t generally like to talk about.
“I think it’s important that people become aware of issues that are out there,” she said. “It’s hard for people to really understand the depth of the damage that was caused to people (due to residential schools). I’m hoping that this will allow people to develop a greater understanding of the effects from the residential schools.”
Hepburn agrees a play is a good way for audiences to learn about Canada’s residential schools.
“Storytelling comes naturally to First Nations people,” she said. “This is just another form of storytelling and I think it’s a really great way to capture people in terms of people listening to somebody … It brings things alive. It’s visceral. It’s real. You can’t deny what’s happening on the stage. It’s unfolding before you. It’s definitely a way, I think, to learn new things in a different way.”
Hepburn decribes Johnny as “hard, hurt, tough, angry, resigned.
“She’s a very complex character in so many ways,” she said. “Incredibly intelligent on a lot of different things … The strength of her really resonates. She had the strength to come and confront this individual and face and discuss what happened in the past and try to bring some resolution.”
Hayden Taylor will attend a preview night Tuesday to benefit Nogdawindamin Family and Community Services.
Houston Jones extended an invitation to the playwright about four months ago.
She’s excited he’ll see the production, but also a little on edge that Hayden Taylor will be at the theatre.
“I’m hoping that I do it justice,” said Houston Jones. “Meet his intent. I think I’ve got some pretty good actors and I think we’re going to do really well.”
Tickets, $29 adults, $27 seniors and $19 students, are on sale at Community Theatre Box Office at Station Mall or online at www.saultctc.ca
Curtain is 8 p.m. except 2 p.m on May 26.
Sault Theatre Workshop presents God and the Indian at Studio Theatre. 8 p.m. except 2 p.m. on May 26. Tickets on sale at Community Theatre Box Office at Station Mall or online at www.saultctc.ca
Canadian fiddle champions Jane Cory and Kyle Burghout at Old Town Hall in Richards Landing. 7:30 p.m. $20, $10 students. Tickets on sale at Island Market in Richards Landing, online at algomatrad.ca/buy-tickets or call 705-782-4311.
May 24 and 25
Mustang Heart at Esquire Club.
Bearded Lounge at Reggie’s West (4 p.m. on May 24, 3 p.m. on May 25) and Boneyard (9:30 p.m. both days).
Forty Creek at Moose Family Centre. 7 p.m. Call 705-759-8623 for information.
Superior Heights OnStage presents Mamma Mia at Sault Community Theatre Centre. 7 p.m. $20 adults, $5 students. Tickets on sale at Community Theatre Box Office at Station Mall or online at www.saultctc.ca
Poetry Circle North at James L. McIntyre Centennial Library. 7 p.m. Call 705-759-5236 to register. All welcome to bring poetry to share.
Algoma Repertory Theatre presents Death and the Maiden at Grand Gardens Downtown. $65. Tickets on sale at Grand Gardens North or online at www.ARTinSSM.com
Way Too Funny Festival presents Night of Hilarity and Awe featuring Naomi Snieckus and Matt Baram at The Machine Shop. 8 p.m.
Jesse Merineau with The Kents and Mallory Hurley at The Machine Shop. 7:30 p.m.
Striker at Soo Blaster. 8 p.m.
Glenn Miller Orchestra at Lake Superior State University’s Arts Center. 7 p.m.
Submit events to firstname.lastname@example.org by Wednesday noon.