February 21, 2024

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TORONTO – Opening on Feb. 9, Young People’s Theatre presents Mistatim by Red Sky Performance. Written by Governor General Award-wining playwright Erin Shields, based on a concept by Sandra Laronde, tells an intercultural story about reconciliation, friendship and the taming of a wild horse.

“I wanted to do something really stunningly beautiful and the taming of a horse I thought would be really powerful,” says Sandra Laronde, “I was very interested in how the taming of a horse could be done through sensing and following and reading and compassion and there’s a way that you can communicate with the horse, and there’s another way that is through fear, domination and control and these are two different ways of taming a horse and I was really fascinated by that.”

Scene from Mistatim | Image Source: ipaa.ca/Cylla Von Tiedemann

Mistatim tells the astounding story of two children separated only by a wooden fence, Calvin on his ranch and Speck on her reserve, but living worlds apart. It is only once Calvin attempts to break Mistatim – the untameable horse – that these two children connect. “It only takes something wild, like a horse, that forces these children to cross that fence for the first time,” says Laronde.

“It’s the story about a fence that has the reserve on one side and the ranch on the other side and they’re never supposed to cross that fence,” explains Laronde.

Both Calvin and Speck are dealing with their own family issues. Once Speck discovers that she has the ability to communicate with horses, she and Calvin work together to build a relationship with Mistatim, they also learn to communicate with their own families and each other. “The piece has elements of darkness and sadness, but also joy, also light, also possibility and also hope,” states Laronde, “the stories of reconciliation are extremely important and I’ve heard a lot of stories of reconciliation and people doing them for adults, but never for children, so we wanted to create something for children and their families.”

February 9th will mark the beginning of the third tour for Mistatim, which just came off an 8-State Tour in the United States in December 2015, this tour will be a 5-Province tour in Canada. “So I think it’ll be closer to home, in Canada and where we are in Canada we are starting to open up these kinds of stories about reconciliation, still so many Canadian’s don’t know what that means,” says Laronde.

“We’re reaching young children and their families,” states Laronde, “the intercultural, the connection between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal children too, is an important story in Mistatim.”

Not only does the story discuss the connections between the two children and their different worlds, there are many stories of connection. “The connection between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal, the connection between animal and human, between boy and girl, between ranch and reserve, we’re talking about all these kinds of connections,” says Laronde.

Mistatim is an intercultural story that is great for both children and their families, combining dance, theatre, storytelling and movement. “I think you could be the age of five and love this piece and you could be someone who is a parent or an adult or an educator and love this piece,” says Laronde.

This article was written by Jamie-Lee McKenzie republished with permission from Anishinabek News.

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MUSKRAT Magazine

MUSKRAT is an on-line Indigenous arts, culture magazine that honours the connection between humans and our traditional ecological knowledge by exhibiting original works and critical commentary. MUSKRAT embraces both rural and urban settings and uses media arts, the Internet, and wireless technology to investigate and disseminate traditional knowledges in ways that inspire their reclamation.

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