April 01, 2010

Where the Blood Mixes

A harrowing but hopeful tale

Play about residential school survivors prompts tears and laughter

By Patrick Langston
First Nations playwright Kevin Loring ushers us into the world of those survivors with his deeply engaging play Where the Blood Mixes, which opened Thursday at the National Arts Centre. Winner of the 2009 Governor General's Literary Award for Drama, the play is billed as a "dramatic comedy of truth and reconciliation."

And that complex, unexpected blend is the play's defining strength, one minute wringing silent shame or tears from the audience for what our governments and priests did, pivoting to laughter the next. True and raw, Loring's play is also an affirmation that healing, at least on some level and at least for some victims, is possible.

Loring's story, directed by Glynis Leyshon and with a memorable cast of mostly aboriginal actors, centres on Floyd (Billy Merasty), an embittered widower with a short fuse who spends too much time in a small-town bar. With his longtime friend Mooch (Ben Cardinal), Floyd drinks and argues. He and Mooch try to live despite their corrosive memories of the residential school system.

Drink as Floyd and Mooch may, they can't erase that self-hatred. Like the huge sturgeon that gets away in one of the play's funniest scenes--a brilliant retelling of a boyhood fishing trip involving Mooch, his father and grandfather--their memories seem destined to forever circle just beneath the surface. If they could only be caught, maybe they could be finally gutted.
Comment:  For more on the subject, see Native Plays and Other Stage Shows.

Below:  "Where the Blood Mixes, which opened Mrch 25, 2010 at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa, is billed as a 'dramatic comedy of truth and reconciliation.'"

No comments: