Fostering Infinithéàtre’s ongoing mandate of reflecting and exploring life in the 21stcentury, Artistic Director Guy Sprung examines Canada’s ignoble past in the creative development of this second part of Fight On!, playing from March 21-24 at Espace Knox. There is no need to have seen Part One first. This cross-cultural, multilingual, meta-Brechtian romp set during the late 19th century is an ambitious undertaking; its final state will incorporate masks, multimedia, dance, and buffoonery. This original text breaks through learned history and sets it straight, though with more than a hint of a smirk. Blending comedy and Dickensian irony with tragedy, Fight On! Part Two will be mainly in English, with significant characters speaking French, Cree and Mohawk. There will be talkbacks after each performance.
There is an ever increasing visibility of Indigenous Peoples’ contributions, especially in the arts, and yet, says Sprung, “Too many Canadians know little or nothing about the colonization of their country, which has resulted, inevitably, in present-day conflicts. This lack of knowledge has serious consequences for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis people, and for Canada as a whole.”
Following the death of his famous novelist father, Francis Jeffery Dickens (known as the Christmas Carol baby) arrives in Canada in 1874 with all the prejudices and presumptions of a white colonist/settler. After serving 11 years as a member of the North West Mounted Police, Frank is horrified by the mendacity and theft that robbed the Indigenous Peoples of their lands. He learns to respect the traditions and wisdom of Anishinaabeg culture and begins to understand the urgent need to live in harmony with Mother Nature. Frank was diminutive in stature, lame in one leg, deaf in one ear and had a tendency to stutter… the perfect comic anti-protagonist. This saga, blending comedy with tragedy for aTurtle Island prairie adventure like no other, will leave audiences questioning what it means to be Canadian.
Fight On! is a two-part epic—last season offered Part One (Song of Innocence), this season is Part Two (Innocence Transubstantiated), and next season will present both parts in a full-scale production. The workshop of Fight On! Part One last season explored and experimented, integrating the staging and the highly creative technical elements into a unique story-telling theatre style. Judging by the extraordinary audience reaction, the company nailed it. This development performance will a staged reading of Part Two where the playwright and cast can concentrate on script development and the politics of the story. Working in tandem with Sprung, Drew Hayden Taylor‘s (Ojibway, Curve Lake) sardonic, ‘red pen’ colour commentary is in direct counter-point to our usual perspective of the tale. “Drew’s interwoven text completes this literate, ironic-Dickensian storytelling of the invasion and occupation by European settlers,” said Sprung.
During the show, audiences are encouraged to participate, with the play ending in a town hall-type meeting. After each performance, the company will hold talkbacks offering the public an opportunity to voice their opinions and directly influence the play’s development. Noted Sprung, “This time we want to test the structure, the characters and the climax… and are eager for audience feedback for a clear perspective on where to take the final draft for the full productions of Fight On! in its entirety.”
The gifted and versatile ensemble cast returns to deepen the work they started, playing a multitude of characters helmed by Daniel Brochu as Frank, along with Patrick Abellard, Shawn Campbell, Brefny Caribou, Tyson Houseman, Howard Rosenstein and Ivan Smith. New to the cast for Part Two are Wahiakeron George Gilbert and Manouchka Elinor.
CN Aboriginal Affairs proudly sponsors the Thursday, March 21 performance, welcoming members of Indigenous communities. About Fight On! Part One: Anishinabek News
Fight On! Part Two March 21-24 four performances only!
Tuesday – Saturday, 8:00pm, Sunday matinée at 2:00pm
Infinithéâtre at Espace Knox, 6215 Godfrey Ave. in NDG
Box office: (514) 987-1774 #104 or online
Tickets: $20/$15 students/seniors
Post-show Artist Talks after performances