It’s a story of family, torn apart by tragedy, desperately trying to reconnect with each other and their culture. When you live in two different worlds with very different realities, is that even possible?
Falen Johnson’s play Two Indians is the season finale for Gordon Tootoosis Nīkānīwin Theatre’s 2018/2019 season. The story centers on two cousins, one who stayed on the reserve, the other who left for the city.
“They are waiting for the moon to rise and they get into it like all cousins do,” says actor Andrea Folster who plays Winnie. “You start to feel the tight dynamic between the two as they dance around their issues.” Folster says there’s just something about this play that really speaks to her.
“This play made me feel seen,” says Folster. “Not just as an Indigenous person but as a woman and as someone who recognizes all the stupid stuff in the world and wants to do something about it.”
“This play made me feel seen. Not just as an Indigenous person but as a woman and as someone who recognizes all the stupid stuff in the world and wants to do something about it.”
Johnson created Two Indians in response to the Idle No More movement. The protest made her realize the disconnect between her life experience in the city and life of her family on reserve.
“Indigenous people straddle two different existences. For us, politics and family are always intertwined,” says Johnson. “In the city, the movement was all around us, there were protests everywhere. It took a lot longer for my family on reserve to even know Idle No More was happening and to realize its importance.”
The play takes a hard look at obligation to both family and the outside world, all the while celebrating the bond between these two women.
“The injustice, the mean things that people do to one another, the things we choose in politics or to do with our bodies, there’s a lot of stuff in this play that I can relate to,” says Folster. “This play also celebrates empathy and compassion. Things we need more of in this world.”
Both Folster and Johnson want audiences to know that there are tough issues in this play, but there is also a healthy dose of humour and optimism.
“It’s how the moon reflects the sun,” says Folster. “This play is not all heavy. There are some light, funny moments that illuminate the truth. It’s a celebration of kinship and how we are all stronger when we truly see each other.”