A First Nations story with universal themes is about to debut on Dancing Sky Theatre’s stage. Popcorn Elder is a new work by Saskatchewan playwright Curtis Peeteetuce.
The story centers on Darren, a young Cree man who’s just been released from prison and Wally, Darren’s father, who wants to help rebuild their lives.
“There aren’t a lot of father/son stories in Indian country,” explains Peeteetuce. “Damaged by residential schools, there’s always been an absence in the family tree. A lot of us have lost identity, pride and that link to who we really are.”
“A lot of us have lost identity, pride and that link to who we really are.”
The inspiration for this story came after Peeteetuce read about a man in Arizona who, posing as shaman, sold sweat lodge experiences in 2009. “This play follows it’s characters as they search for their spiritual center and their family,” says Angus Ferguson the show’s dramaturge and director.
Sam Bob, whose traditional name is Tulquemult, plays the father Wally. He says this play is a call to action, “It’s so necessary for communities to rebuild father/son relationships.” He explains, “It’s how we pass on values and create positive role modeling.”
The play deals with themes of reconciliation within the family unit, which is reflected in the cross-cultural collaboration between companies producing it; Dancing Sky Theatre out of Meacham, SK and the Gordon Tootoosis Nīkānīwin Theatre in Saskatoon. The two companies are hoping to bridge the gap between rural and urban, First Nations and non-First Nations.
“In one way this story can be political but at its heart, it’s human,” explains Ferguson. “It’s just about people and we are the same everywhere.”
Popcorn Elder is already getting huge buzz in theatre circles. The production is being looked at to tour outside of Saskatchewan and has interest from several theatre festivals.
The show will run April 29 – May 15, 2016 at Dancing Sky Theatre and then the run will move to GTNT in Saskatoon May 19 – 29, 2016.