November 18, 2018

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COAST SALISH STORY, SPAWN, MAKES THEATRICAL DEBUT IN TKARONTO

COAST SALISH STORY, SPAWN, MAKES THEATRICAL DEBUT IN TKARONTO

Wild Woman Theatre’s Spawn | Image Source: Wild Woman Theatre

Wild Woman Theatre presents its first theatrical debut, Spawn, debut at Factory Theatre here in Tkaronto for Summerworks Performance Festival until Sunday, August 13, 2017.

“Wild Woman Theatre actually started out with the desire to produce Spawn,” explained director Gein Wong. “Part of the reason was to be able to create a piece where its main leadership and artistic vision centres Indigenous women as well as blends interdisciplinary work.”

Herbie Barnes head shot | Image source: Indigenous Performing Arts Association
Herbie Barnes head shot | Image source: Indigenous Performing Arts Association

The play centres around a young a Coast Salish woman, Theresa, played by Samantha Brown, who struggles to reconnect with her family after her mother’s death while she is about to have a baby with Mikey, played by Dillan Meighan-Chiblow. Herbie Barnes, who plays Theresa’s father, steals the show as a recovering alcoholic coming to terms with his wife’s death. It’s something the other lead actors could build off of because at times their lines seemed a little too rushed.

Writer, Cheyenne Scott expertly weaves in the story of the Salmon Spirit and uses the journey salmon make in the wild as parallels to the journey that Theresa goes on to reconnect with her father and grandmother. A journey with many obstacles along the way. “When the salmon is ready to lay eggs again, it comes back all the way from the ocean to lay eggs in the exact place where it was born even though it wasn’t there for years,” said Wong. “Theresa is going through the same thing. She hasn’t been home in a long time and she’s going back to reconnect. When the salmon is going to spawn, they go upstream, facing many difficulties.” This parallel also re-enforces the connection Coast Salish people have with their land and their environment.

While Spawn touches on important Indigenous issues like murdered and missing Indigenous women, violence against women, and resource extraction, I really enjoyed how the story weaved light hearted moments with the darker ones, yet ended in a place of hope.”It’s not a play that resolves everything, it’s realistic,” said Wong. “There’s going to be problems that people have to work through. The family dynamic is still there, but there’s hope and desire to make things work and that’s what powerful about the piece.”

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About The Author

Erica Commanda

Born in Toronto, Erica Commanda (Algonquin/Ojibwe) grew up in the small community of Pikwakanagan. From there she moved across Canada living in Ottawa, Vancouver and now Toronto, working in the bar/hospitality industry, mastering the art of listening to stories from her regulars while slinging and spilling drinks (at them or to them). And now through a series of random decisions and events in life she is on a journey discovering and mastering her own knack for storytelling as a Staff Writer for MUSKRAT Magazine.

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