The Vancouver-based Theatre for Living company will bring its interactive play about reconciliation issues to the Thunderbird Hall Thursday Jan. 25. The play is called šxʷʔam̓ət (pronounced “shwah-mette”). The word means “home” in Hǝn̓q̓ǝmin̓ǝm̓, a Coast Salish dialect.
“Conversations have been bubbling across the country about this word “Reconciliation” and what it really means,” said director David Diamond. “With the Canada 150 anniversary last year and with the closure of the Truth and Reconciliation offices in 2015, there are many questions about what these policies, proclamations, and apologies mean to all of us who call this place home.”
šxʷʔam̓ət is presented by a mixed Indigenous and non-Indigenous cast and production team using a technique called forum theatre, which Diamond describes as an opportunity for creative, community-based dialogue. The play is performed once, all the way through, so the audience can see the situation and the problems presented. The story builds to a crisis and stops, offering no solutions. The play is then run again, with audience members able to “freeze” the action at any point where they see a character engaged in a struggle, and have an idea to solve the problem, somehow. They replace the character whose struggle they understand. The other characters respond, drawing on their own lived expertise.
“In this way we engage in a creative and action-based dialogue about issues in our lives,” said associate director Renae Morriseau. “The process is fun, profound, entertaining and full of surprises.”
Theatre for Living is touring šxʷʔam̓ət through 19 communities across B.C. and Alberta between Jan. 17 – Feb. 25 and will return to Vancouver March 2 – 10 at the Firehall Arts Centre. Each tour performance is co-hosted by local, collaborating Indigenous and non-Indigenous community organizations. In Campbell River, the co-hosts are the Laichwiltach Family Life Society, The John Howard Society, Ann Elmore Transition House, and the Wei Wai Kum First Nation.
The performance will take place at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 25. Tickets will be by donation, with ticket funds supporting the Laichwiltach Family Life elders’ group and the society’s two youth groups. Everyone is welcome to attend and those who wish to be guaranteed admission may pick up tickets in advance at the Laichwiltach Family Life Society (441 4th Ave.) and John Howard Society offices (140 – 10th Ave.)