Overview: Inheriting painful pasts, characters study to adapt in Making Treaty 7's O'kosi

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O’kosi is the Blackfoot phrase which means autumn, the time when Indigenous peoples gathered to return to their winter camps. It’s additionally the time when nature readies for the approaching season of chilly and snow, and alter is what O’kosi is all about.

Conceived three years in the past by Michelle Thrush, Garret C. Smith, Alanna Bluebird and Janine Owlchild, O’kosi seems to be on the devastating results that the signing of Treaty 7 had on the folks it promised to guard and support.

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There was appropriation of lands, and residential colleges that robbed Indigenous peoples of their properties and identities and fractured their households. Set in numerous many years from the day of that fateful treaty in 1877 via 2023, and even into an imagined future in 2077, it tries to seek out hope and reassurance via the plight of two households.

Grace’s son Jordan (Dustin Frank) was taken from her at age 5 and raised by Polish foster mother and father. Remorse despatched Grace (Owlchild) right into a downward spiral and a life on the streets of Calgary. One other character, Darren, (Garret C. Smith) is so damaged by the generational results of residential colleges that his grandparents and oldsters had been despatched to that he deserted his spouse and daughter Lily (Mary-Rose Cohen).

Making Treaty 7
Mary-Rose Cohen and Dustin Frank play grownup kids making an attempt to reconcile with their mother and father in Making Treaty 7’s O’kosi. It runs within the GRAND Theatre till Saturday. Courtesy, Keith Driver, CJWE FM jpg

Destiny, within the guise of Sylvia (Alanna Onespot), a mysterious poet and the present’s narrator, brings Darren and Grace into one another’s lives, and finally again into the lives of their misplaced kids. It’s not linear storytelling which makes it a much more intriguing expertise. There may be additionally a surreal facet in that Sylvia can enter the ideas and areas of the characters she intends to affect. That is notably hilarious when she intrudes on Jordan, a gamer dwelling within the basement of his Polish mother and father’ house. His personal expertise with avatars makes him extra prone to this spirit particular person than most younger folks his age.

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Lily is an aspiring dancer which supplies Cohen the chance for a haunting interpretive dance sequence which blends trendy dance with conventional pow-wow. There’s a stay band and a pow-wow band with stunning solos from Kaidynce Goodwill. This mix of music, tune, dance and storytelling locations O’kosi firmly within the style of any Indigenous theatre from Asian to Center Japanese.

Andy Moro’s set permits for a number of completely different appearing areas, whereas his projections take the viewers from fields to streets in Calgary, the Arts Commons, a dance studio, Jordan’s bed room and a cabin sooner or later. Matt Levesque’s lighting design helps set up the always-changing moods.

There’s a bench on set and several other of the play’s finest moments happen there as when Grace approaches Darren asking for cash, solely to seek out they’ve a lot in frequent. She is asking for change, nevertheless it’s probably not cash she needs, however an escape from her present state of affairs. It’s a stunning scene, so wealthy with authenticity and unforced emotions. Smith additionally has a robust second on that bench with Cohen when father and daughter lastly unburden their hearts, and there may be one other sweeter, funnier second when Cohen and Frank speak to one another about what it meant to be deserted by their mother and father.

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When the set turns into the tv recreation present Let’s Make a Cope with Smith because the host and Frank because the contestant, it’s all nice slapstick enjoyable, that results in a touching reunion between son and mom.

Thrush’s path offers the night quite a lot of colors and feelings, continually reminding us there are such a lot of methods of telling tales. O’Kosi is a mild method of coping with some highly effective insights and messages and by no means looks like a historical past lesson or a diatribe as a result of Thrush and her co-creators and forged members know one in every of their main objectives is to entertain.

O’Kosi runs within the Grand Theatre’s Flanagan Theatre till Saturday, nightly at 8 p.m. with a 2 p.m. matinee on Saturday.

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