White Man’s Indian (WMI Collective) 2017 SummerWorks Review

White Man's Indian WMI Collective Presents White Man’s Indian, a striking one-woman show written and performed by Darla Contois at this year’s SummerWorks festival.

Darla Contois is an engaging storyteller and this is a hard-hitting performance not to be overlooked.

Contois brings astounding presence and grace to her role of Eva, a teenage Cree girl who navigates the perilous labyrinth of (a white man’s) high school. Eva’s experiences are recounted in a non-linear sequence and depict many moments of frustration, anger, disappointment, and unveil a gradual atonement to her own unrelenting resilience.

Some of the lived experiences that shape Eva’s life consists of sexual abuse, selfish friendships, absentee parents, and incessant confusion over self-identity in the face of a lost cultural history.

White Man’s Indian is indeed a coming-of-age story, though expertly contained in a mere hour. At the beginning, Eva is depicted as a rather lost character with her over-sized, baggy clothing and hanging head. A strength of Contois’ acting is the way she emulates Eva’s growth as a character. By the end, subtle choices Contois makes regarding posture and voice, for example, turn Eva into a character quite different from the Eva in the first scene. By the end of the play, she brims with conviction and pride when she radically reclaims the cultural identity she still doesn’t know much about.

The ending of this play is a far cry from any clear conclusion, offering instead a point of departure to open up much-needed discussion of the challenges First Nations youth encounter in our 21st Century Canada. Contois asks direct questions about a country that prioritizes preserving its current economic system over the welfare of its people.

Contois performs this role with utmost vulnerability, completely owning this story. As this is a one-woman show, her transitions into other characters by way of her voice is haunting. The use of lighting, choice props, and music, also helps guide the story along effortlessly.

This is an honest, thoughtful performance, and Contois is an artist one should look to with eager anticipation; her White Man’s Indian is indeed a force to be reckoned with.

Details

White Man’s Indian is playing at the Theatre Center at 1115 Queen Street West.

Remaining performances:

  • Friday August 4th 6:00pm – 7:00pm
  • Saturday August 5th 6:30pm – 7:30pm
  • Sunday August 6th 12:00pm – 1:00pm
  • Monday August 7th 7:30pm – 8:30pm
  • Thursday August 10th 5:00pm – 6:00pm
  • Friday August 11th 9:45pm – 10:45pm
  • Saturday August 12th 7:00pm – 8:00pm

SummerWorks tickets are now Pay What You Decide at $15, $25, or $35, whichever suits your budget. All tickets are general admission and there are no limits to any price level. Tickets are available at the performance venue (cash only), online and in person at the SummerWorks Central Box Office – located at Factory Theatre (125 Bathurst Street). Open August 1-13 from 10am-7pm. Cash and credit accepted.

Several money-saving passes are available if you plan to see at least 7 shows.

Latecomers will not be permitted to enter this event.

Audience Advisory: Mature subject matter, partial nudity, strobe lights (16+)

Photo by Peatr Thomas