Tuesday, March 06, 2018

Wild West


... i missed my chance ... i had something to say ... sitting before me were ten performers and playwright ... the show had ended ten minutes ago and they had returned for a talk back session ... i didn’t really have a question or maybe i had a thousand questions ... but i did want to share something ... i wanted to tell them how i felt ... i didn’t ...

... what i might have said was their collective epic work about Métis history, struggle, identity, reclamation, exile and recognition Gabriel Dumont’s Wild West Show was a wonderful theatrical spectacle, carefully crafted and an exceptionally acted Wild West show ... i wanted to thank them and honour all their courage and vision ... i also wanted to tell them i was trembling ...

... trembling ... well because ... well that night i would have put it in words like i was full of tension ... one of the actors ... think it was cast member Gabriel Gosselin who played Louis Riel used the word "authentic"...  i would have added that i thank them for moments that certainly i felt moved by authenticity ... there were cries of the voice & songs that stirred the heart & i listened to poetic words  and heard the praire wind and the power of the land as you gaze down on the Saskatchewan River while standing at Batoche ...  & i trembled ...

... i trembled because right from the moment i entered ... playing on an on-stage screen was archival documentary film footage of Buffalo Bill's Wild West ... i was suddenly placed in the grandstand of a large outdoor exhibition ... i had no choice but to recognize myself as the white irish/scottish/italian settler gaping wide-eyed at this circus like event ... only it wasn't the late eighteen hundreds but early 21st century ... my gaze was still that of the colonizer ... i was curious ... i trembled ...

... i trembled most just before intermission ... a dancer in an incredibly designed colourful regalia danced wildly, breathtakingly seemingly at the edge of existence ... i didn't know whether to applaud, as so many did, at the immense display of virtuosity ... or to look away ... why did i feel shamefully voyeristic ... was this touristic appropriation ... i had seen and learnt a little about fancy dance, jingle dance & the meaning of the regalia but now i was trapped in the gaze of the colonizer entertained by the exotic other ... i stuggled to find context ... i trembled in tension ...

... then i reconciled ... wasn't that the goal of theatre ... the use of spectalcle & pageantry, silliness & cabaret, poetry & satire, history & pop culture all plunging into the gut to stir up  ... wasn't that what theatre was all about ... to provoke ... & then to leave me questioning ...

... so thank you creative team - authors, director and intepreters ...

still ... if i had a question for the group that was seated in front of me it would have been do they feel a tension? ... or better what tension do they feel? ... i wonder how they would have answered ...

... i mean i heard six languages ... not understanding most but the sound reverberated/resonated ... i read in the program:
"That's the gamble the collective took: to write this epic ... to revive the language and cadences of peoples who roamed this untamed land long before Canadian Confederation. May their words, swept away by the Praire wind, come back to haunt us!" - Jean Marc Dalpé, Alexis Martin & Yvette Nolan. 
... yes  it was a haunting ... i have lived in Saskatchewan for about fifty years ... there exists this memory of place ... a memorial landscape written into the body & my experience of the land ... now a couple of days reflecting on that evening performance what remains ... an eerie disquiet of something uncanny at the core of the remembering body ...  i remember hauntology ...  "the situation of temporal, historical and ontological disjunction ... paradoxes found in postmodernity, particularly comtemporary culture's persistent recycling of retro aesthetics and incapacity to escape old social forms."...  ahh ... escape is that the challenge ... to rethink memory and place ...

... i trembled due to my paranoia sitting in the theatre being visited on by potential schizoaesthetics ... i needed to ... i desired ...  new social forms ...  a  moving beyond authentic knowing or even authentic not knowing ... Tanya Tagaq improvised Retribution ... a space beyond resistence, revolution, revision, reconciliation ...

... retribution is the act of uprooting yourself from social organization and traditions in order to conduct physical exoduses from the idelogical terrritories that harboured them through much of your previous life ... tuning heightened degress of empathy and perception ... to focus your gaze on something & tease out the intangible  - the intangible that transforms to deterritoialise oneself from the commidification of all facets of life ...

... no distinction between metaphor and metamorphosis ... in opposition to traditionalism retribution opens up spaces to re-code flows of desire/knowldege in new ways ...to push through the limits ... breakthrough ...

... i return to the wild dance ... apply retribution ... dance the conditions to imagine a vigorous emerging potent force & energy ... i tremble with anticipation ...

::Note:: ... i intended to see the performance again the next night ... instead i chose to be with my five month old grandson Gabriel ... his father born in Cairo & mother born in Edmonton ... they met in Rome while his mother (my daughter) was pursuing her opera career and performing in Europe ... they deliberately chose to return to Saskatoon for his birth ... they wanted him to be "Canadian" ... as i held him close i thought what will shape his encounter with this land ...