Pawâkan Macbeth, a full-length play commissioned by The Stratford Festival, is coming to Treaty 6 territory in Alberta.
It’s a “take over” play by Indigenous playwright Reneltta Arluk, which sets Pawâkan Macbeth in Cree territory in 1870s Alberta, with the cannibal spirit, Wihtiko.
The play was inspired by working with the youth of Frog Lake First Nation, with shared stories from Elders in the Treaty 6 region. Arluk has created a terrifying journey through love, greed, honour and betrayal, the story of Macbeth made relatable to First Nations audiences through an Indigenous lens.
“First Nations schools in Alberta are required to learn Shakespeare as part of their English curriculum. The inspiration of taking over Macbeth was to offer Indigenous youth a First Nations perspective of the play that lessens the language barrier and heightens the story,” said Arluk.
Pawâkan Macbeth features an all Indigenous cast with Sophie Merasty, Joel Montgrand, Allyson Pratt, Mitchell Saddleback, Aaron Wells and Kaitlyn Yott.
It is set before colonization, when Plains Cree were allied with Stoney Nakoda, and at war with Blackfoot over territory, food, supplies and trade. The Canadian government was making its way west with Sir John A. MacDonald as its leader. Harsh environments brought immense fear, starvation and uncertainty together to awaken the darkest of Cree spirits, the Wihtiko—a being with an insatiable greed.
Through the exploration of Cree language, history, stories and cosmology Arluk asks, What is it to be human? What makes a human vulnerable to the Wihtiko?
TREATY 6 PERFORMANCE DATES—all shows are free and open to the public.
- Jan. 27 – 1 p.m. – Maskwacis – Nipisihkopahk Secondary School
- Jan. 28 – 5 p.m. – Saddle Lake First Nation – Kihew Asiniy Education Centre
- Jan. 29 – 10:30 a.m. – Saddle Lake First Nation – Kihew Asiniy Education Centre
- Jan. 30 – 12:45 p.m. and 5 p.m. – Kehewin First Nation – Kehewin Community Education Centre
- Jan. 31 – 12:45 p.m. – Frog Lake First Nation – Chief Napeweaw School
- Feb. 1 – 5 p.m. – Frog Lake First Nation – Chief Napeweaw School
Pawâkan Macbeth is for ages 14 and up and can also be seen on Feb. 6 at 7 p.m., Feb. 7 at 2 p.m. and 8:30 p.m., and Feb. 8 at 2 p.m. at the Backstage Theatre, ATB Financial Arts Barns, 10330 - 84 Ave NW in Edmonton. Tickets are $25 and available at www.chinookseries.ca or by phone at (780) 409-1910.
Offer What You Will tickets are also available at the door.
Follow the play on Facebook and Instagram @akpiktheatre