zahgidiwin/love - The Future of Oppressor and Oppressed
Frances Koncan has written a bold exploration of white male power, residential schools and oppression, whether formally institutionalized or directly ingrained in our psyche.
As we follow our young heroine through time and space, we visit a residential school where children are stripped of everything from their clothing to their dignity and identity; a white man’s 90s basement where he holds indigenous women hostage; and a post-apocalyptic future where men are nothing more than furniture.
At first the transitions can be hard to follow between the different times and places but if you let go of your preconceived notion of storytelling and go with it, all becomes clear as the story unfolds.
Frances Koncan has used a number of pop-culture references to present the absurdity and the brutality of the cultural genocide of indigenous people in Canada. She makes no apologies for the treatment of those responsible and lets no one off the hook. Listen for how she plays with the word band and the subtle and not so subtle use of music lyrics throughout the play.
In an interplay of semantics, we watch the oppressor plead oblivion to his crimes while some of the women he oppresses become initiated and conspire toward their very own oppression. The oppressed become the oppressors and still today the story continues.
The play also addresses the often asked questions: “Is it over now?” and “Can’t we just stop talking about it?” With the last residential schools closing in 1996 and assimilation continuing today, this is an important play. zahgidiwin/love will make you uncomfortable, as it should. Just like the characters in the play, we have things we don’t want to talk about, comforts we do not want challenged. Sit with your discomfort; allow it to start not only a dialogue but a long overdue movement toward the dismantling of the status quo.