WCT opening Indigenous language show

World premiere at Pavilion

Sydney Chisholm

Echoes of the Homesick Heart, a play exploring language reclamation and revitalization from the perspective of a multi-generational Indigenous family will premiere Thursday at the Pavilion Theatre.

The show's creator, Laura Michel — an Indigenous artist hailing from the Adams Lake area — conducted more than 40 interviews across the Secwépemc Nation as she worked to create the play.

Issiah Bull Bear, who plays the character of Sunec, said the play sees his character going through what a lot of young Indigenous people face.

“He's [Sunec] going through a struggle of being told the negative sides of being Indigenous, that's plagued by stereotypes and all that,” Bull Bear told Castanet Kamloops.

“But then he also has an Indigenous family for which it's beautiful, and trying to navigate that, in a world that really doesn't, for lack of better term, doesn't want you to be Indigenous, and wants you to assimilate.”

The play takes place in a black box theatre, which means a more intimate experience for audience members, according Merewyn Comeau, the actor who plays Emily.

“It's gonna be kind of like, as if you were watching a documentary, live as it happens,” she said.

“It's so small and intimate. You can see the sweat dripping off of the actor's face. You're in this tight, enclosed space, where you can just be with each other, feel each other's energy.”

Although it was written based on local experiences, Bull Bear said the show is incredibly relatable even as a Blackfoot man of Siksika Nation, near Calgary.

Bull Bear said the show has a lot to take away for audiences of all backgrounds.

“I think there is going to be two groups that watch this play. There's going to be white folks, of course, and I hope that they gain more appreciation for the language and also say the name right,” he said with a laugh, adding that many in Kamloops pronounce Secwepemctsín the way it is written instead of how it should be pronounced.

“For the Indigenous folks, I hope that younger folks come in and see the theatre and just think ‘I could do that’, be it as an actor or in language or other stuff or even see my character and say, ‘I relate to that.’”

Growing up, Bull Bear said he never got to see people who looked like him on stage, so he hopes his work will inspire other Indigenous kids.

Echoes of the Homesick Heart runs from June 2 to June 11 at the Pavilion Theatre.

For more information or to purchase tickets, click here.

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