Indigenous theatrical showcase includes Ahousat, a Bear Song

Eric Plummer, February 22, 2018

Guy Louie Jr., seen drumming at an urban gathering in Victoria last December, is part of Pendulum: an Indigenous Showcase this weekend. (Eric Plummer photo)

Victoria, BC — 

A showcase of Indigenous acts is taking over a stage in Victoria this weekend – including a performance composed by an Ahousaht drummer.

Guy Louie Jr.’s Ahousat, a Bear Song is one of eight pieces in Pendulum – An Indigenous Showcase, which takes place at the Belfry Theatre Friday and Saturday.

The event is being produced by Lindsay Delaronde, the City of Victoria’s Indigenous Artist in Residence, ending her one-year term in the role. Delaronde said the showcase combines traditional drumming and singing with contemporary Indigenous performances that use storytelling, modern dance and spoken word.

“We have a lot of technology incorporated into this event as well,” she said. “A lot of videography, moving pictures, lighting, sound - it’s like a full-on production.”

Louie Jr.’s piece, which includes other Nuu-chah-nulth performers, narrates “the struggle and conflict of a man and bear before they unite as one,” according a post describing the event.

Over 40 performers participate in the 75-minute showcase. Some of the groups are already established in the Victoria area while others were assembled for the event.

Delaronde found that with the combination of traditional and contemporary, “one feeds the other.”

“Each group had to negotiate what was appropriate; each person had to follow their own cultural protocol,” she said. “It’s that merging of traditional Indigenous worldview with contemporary theatre.”

Some learning was needed to prepare the cultural performances for a theatrical stage. A donation from Victoria’s Raino Dance studio provided performers with a space to get their pieces ready for a theatrical audience.

“It’s just been a real learning curve for all of us because a lot of the people participating are not trained theatrical people,” said Delaronde. “We’ve been doing this our whole lives, but it’s not considered performing; it’s our way of life.”

Delaronde is in four of the acts, including a solo performance called Pendulum.

“It’s actually a memorial piece for my late partner who passed away exactly a year ago,” said Delaronde. “It’s about grief, letting go and healing.”

Her goal is for the showcase to inspire audience members.

“I’m really hoping to lift people’s spirits,” she said. “That space is going to be activated with Indigenous ritual, ceremony, medicines and offerings. The intention is really to be in that place where I’m gifting and honouring our beautiful culture that we all come from and bringing that together as one.”

Shows take place at 7:30 p.m. Friday, and 1:30 and 7:30 p.m. on Saturday. Tickets are $30 and can be purchased by calling 250-385-6815, online at tickets.belfry.bc.ca or at the theatre at 1291 Gladstone Avenue.