It was supposed to be a holiday blockbuster for Gordon Tootoosis Nīkānīwin Theatre. Leave it to Weavers is a fast and funny tale from Saskatchewan comedians Dakota Ray Hebert, Danny Knight, Maureen Belanger and Ryan Moccasin. The show was sure to be a sell out and then restrictions on social gathering were tightened. The GTNT team was determined to find a way to make it happen.
Jennifer Dawn Bishop stars as a gun-totting Anita in GTNT’s hilarious Christmas comedy. (GTNT)
“It’s always been a tradition for us to bring holiday cheer but it was especially important this year as it’s been so tough on us all,” says GTNT artistic director and actor Jennifer Dawn Bishop. “We just decided we would just go ahead as best we can, until we can’t.”
Leave it to Weavers is the tale of a family who hasn’t seen each other in a while. The siblings reunite at home on the rez for the holidays and to discuss some very important news. All’s calm and bright until they hear the pitter patter of hooves on the roof and Anita decides she needs to stock up the freezer. Knight says writing this play and directing it during a pandemic was a crazy experience.
Danny Knight took his first spin as playwright with a team of local Indigenous comics for Leave it to Weavers. (Studio D Photography)
“We wrote the script over Zoom and we fully expected it to all be cancelled but the chance to create art when everything is shut down right now was just too appealing,” he says. “We really took the challenges as they came on the production side. Everyone, including the actors were masked, there was hand sanitizer everywhere and we decided to film the performance at the Broadway Theatre and offer it online to everyone.”
GTNT has always taken its Christmas productions on tour to Northern and remote communities and this year the team is excited because streaming it on Facebook and YouTube means more people will be able to enjoy the show.
“It’s so important for Indigenous people to have their own holiday stories, to see their lives reflected.”
“Really we can reach the whole world with it,” says Knight. “It’s so important for Indigenous people to have their own holiday stories, to see their lives reflected. People who wouldn’t have access or are too shy to come to the theatre can enjoy it too with just a click of a button.”
The story is full of laughter and, at its heart, it’s about connection.
“I hope the audience gets that we all have to love each other, forgive each other and take care of each other especially right now,” says Knight. “You have to hold onto the love of your family, that’s what makes us strong.
Leave it to Weavers
Dec. 16 – 18, 2020
Facebook & YouTube
For more information & viewing links: gtnt.ca