october 2018 | Volume 172
Note: In lieu of critical reviews, Fire Creator (playwright/director) Kim Senklip Harvey and Fire Ignitors (assistant director) Jessica Schacht and Lindsay Lachance (dramaturg) have solicited responses to Kamloopa (they call them Love Letters) from a variety of Indigenous women. Vancouverplays.com is pleased to present them here.
Thank you for voicing the thoughts and feelings I could never convey on my own. You have embodied and represented us all: every facet, and every strand of our interlacing, complicatedly beautiful, individual beadwork.
I see my older sisters in Kilawna (Samantha Brown), I see myself in Mikaya (Kaitlyn Yott), and I see my childhood friends in Edith (Yolanda Bonnell). And as these three powerful Indigenous women go on their journeys of self-discovery and reclamation, I am moved to embrace my own journey.
Like Kilawna, Mikaya and Edith, I grew up removed from my Indigenous heritage.
I do not know how to introduce myself in my ancestors’ language, and I do not have an Elder to teach me the stories and traditions of my people. But I yearn for that knowledge. Every day.
I am starting to reclaim the lost parts of my heritage. And as I do so, the unanswered questions and the uncertainty often paralyze me. Who am I as an Indigenous woman? Where do I fit in?
Edith says that we have the power to see and heal.
I have seen.
Kamloopa demonstrates that it is okay to be unsure, vulnerable and shy.
I have been reminded that each emotion is as important and valid as the next.
I am healing.
Kamloopa, you broached hard subjects and talked about difficult things. You made me laugh. You made me cry. You made me laugh, and laugh again.
I am inspired by Edith’s confidence, Mikaya’s bravery, and Kilawna’s individuality. I am moved to continue to discover my own story, and to embody the stories of my ancestors.
This unique story is represented with beautiful lighting (Daniela Masellis), brilliant sound design (Cris Derksen), compelling projections (Emily Soussana) and powerful writing and direction (Kim Senklip Harvey).
It moved me. It represented me. It is me.
Go and see it.
Wela’lin & Merci,
(Merewyn Comeau is of Acadien-Métis heritage and grew up on the unceded traditional lands of the Wet'suwet'en Nation in Northern B.C. She now resides on the unceded lands of the Squamish Nation and Tsleil-Waututh Nation as a musical theatre performer.)
Isnyés! Thank you for inviting and welcoming me to bear witness to your ceremony. After Quelemia Sparrow’s welcoming, I felt like I had the permission to laugh, to cry and the permission to feel. My heart was filled with so much joy, laughter, tears and blessings. I felt empowered by these beautiful, strong and resilient women. I want to give thanks to all the matriarchs that took part in making ceremony happen, to the beautiful grandmothers that were there to bear witness, our strong, resilient Indigenous women that helped carry the ceremony, we hold the fire together! I left feeling full, my spirit, my body, my emotions were full of joy! dohã pina maač
With love, warmth and many blessings!
(Darylina Powderface is Nakoda Sioux from mīnī thnī wapta and Blackfoot from Siksika.)
Four out of Five white people will be unsure if/when they should be laughing, and as a status card-carrying two-spirit trickster I say LET IT RIP. Kamloopa is a next gen Smoke Signals. The fire carriers, Indian Friend Number 1, Kilawna and Mikaya, all offered up some of the most genuine portrayals of what it means to be an Indigenous femme. The struggles of institutionalized colonial studies of Indigenous and settler ideologies, and how little that helps. The desperation, torment, and desire for connection. The bits and pieces we bring together to find that connection and the bonds we make along the way. This show walks the razor’s edge between the dead serious and the deadly humorous. It shifts and transforms between incredibly difficult moments grounded in reality, heavy with what Indigenous people go through every day, into the levity of laughter and the spirit world we embody through our ancestral connection. There is next to nothing made for Indigenous women, be it film, theatre or writing. So much is geared toward educating settler audiences, or appeasing, filtering or censoring itself to be acceptable to grants/patrons (government or business acceptable™).
This ceremony does not hold back.
The Mighty Beaver.
This show is FIRE.
You have to see Kamloopa.
Raven John, Two Spirit Trickster
get in touch with vancouverplays:
Vancouver's arts and culture website providing theatre news, previews and reviews