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Trent Invites Community to Theatrical Debut of Gegwah
May 5, 2007

Trent Invites Community to Theatrical Debut of Gegwah, Performed Entirely in Odawa Dialect

GegwahIndigenous Performance Initiatives is proud to present Alanis King’s new work Gegwah, at Trent University on Thursday, May 3 and Friday, May 4 at 8 p.m. both nights.

Peterborough is the first stop on the province wide tour of this groundbreaking new work, developed in association with the University’s Indigenous Studies Department.

Set on the shores of Manitoulin Island in the 1600’s, the story of Gegwah follows seven dispossessed characters, a young band of Odawas who are faced with the onslaught of first contact, specifically the bible and the fur trade.  The story focuses on the emotional impact of colonization through the eyes of these characters as they deal with a rapidly changing landscape. The principal characters are two sisters, who are abandoned by their band as their land is set on fire. They seek solace and guidance from Nokomis (Grandmother) and the many animate spirits around them, who feed them with stories and songs to give them strength.

This piece is performed entirely in Anishnabemowin, specifically the Odawa dialect that is true to the region in which the story is set. Audience members will be provided with a synopsis of the story, however our experience through the workshop of this piece indicates that the movement combined with the production design, make it accessible to non-speakers of the language.

"It is important to showcase an Indigenous language piece in communities where the language is spoken," explains Marrie Mumford, artistic producer and Trent’s Canada Research Chair in Aboriginal Arts and Literature. "The dialect used in this piece is similar to that of the First Nation communities in this region. Language is a critical tool used to establish and locate individual, community and collective identities." Gegwah marks the beginning of the Centre for Indigenous Theatre’s creation and production of theatre work in Indigenous languages.

Performed by graduates emerging from the Centre for Indigenous Theatre three-year program in Toronto, this project will share a dynamic example of what can be done through the arts in regards to language revitalization and retention in Indigenous communities.

Gegwah features emerging Indigenous artists Melanie Baldwin, Cherish Violet Blood, Jeff Legacy, Sarah Severight, Heather White and Eva Rose Tabobondung as well as veteran performer Gloria May Eshkibok.

Gegwah will be presented at NOZHEM: First Peoples Performance Space at Enweying: First Peoples House of Learning and Peter Gzowski College, Trent University, located on the east bank at 2510 Pioneer Drive, Peterborough.

Tickets are $10 ( recommended). Elders, students and underemployed are welcome to give a donation at the door.

For reservations, call (705) 748-1011 X 7921

For further information, call (705) 748-1011 X 7906