They were raw truths, shared around a campfire, about what it’s like to be an Indigenous person in Canada — from experiences with racism to what reconciliation looks like to the many different Indigenous nations with their unique languages and cultures.
Ultimately, those conversations between a diverse group of artists became the basis for the short play Truth, described by one cast member as “a musical journey” that takes audiences through a celebration of diversity intended to build a foundation for friendship and healing.
“Hopefully, through the play, (audiences will) get to know some of our Indigenous cast members and a little bit of their story and take down that barrier that separates us from them, and taking it from an Indigenous and non-Indigenous context to a human context,” said Truth co-director Dwight Farahat.
“All different groups can relate to our story. It’s not only about Blackfoot or native people. We have different members of different tribes, and we have different people telling different stories so it’s fun,” added cast member Smokey Littlelight.
The production, which will be presented as part of the GlobalFest Human Rights Forum, was a collaboration between a number of different artists including rappers, singers, musicians, actors and hip-hop artists.
It was co-director Rebecca Dawn, however, who first came up with the idea for a multi-genre performance two years ago.
“To construct this piece, we stayed out at the Blackfoot Crossing Historical Park for four days of professional development, hiking, learning, dancing, singing, drumming, chopping our own firewood. And through all our organic conversations, we came up with our key messages we wanted to communicate in this piece, which celebrates Indigenous cultural resilience through the urban arts,” said Dawn.
Through music, song and dialogue, the culturally diverse cast delivers those key messages.
“How the play is designed is like everybody sitting around a campfire. They’re just learning about each other, and that’s where it starts, is taking the time to get know each other, to share stories with each other because that’s what breaks down racism and these beliefs,” said Farahat.
He added: “When all we get through media is negative stories about Indigenous people and we’ve never actually sat down and had a conversation with an Indigenous person, it never gets resolved and so through conversation is how we find that healing, and through truth is how we find that healing.”
Truth will cap off five days of events at the GlobalFest Human Rights Forum. A matinee performance will be held Saturday at the John Dutton Theatre in the Calgary Public Library’s downtown location. The performance starts at 12:30 p.m. and is free to the public. A lunch will also be served free of charge to those in attendance.
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