HERITAGE. Ownership. Nimbyism. Environmentalism. Consumerism. Reconciliation. A satirical look at the contemporary cultural debate in Canada comes to the stage of Magnus Theatre in a new play by Drew Hayden Taylor. In a story based on actual events from the recent past, wild rice is at the centre of the battle in Cottagers and Indians — a humorous dramatization of an increasingly bitter conflict in cottage country.
Neighbours are outraged when an Indigenous man begins repopulating his local lakes with wild rice, known amongst the Anishnawbe as manoomin. He wants to revive a traditional source of nourishment for his community. They feel it’s an eyesore and seriously interferes with the enjoyment of their property.
Playwright Taylor drew inspiration from events that happened in the Kawartha Lakes region of Central Ontario when a local man named James Whetung began planting and harvesting wild rice, much to the chagrin of the nearby cottagers.
Cottagers and Indians premiered at Tarragon Theatre in Toronto in early 2018 and comes to Magnus Theatre directed by Richard Rose, with set design by Robin Fisher, costume design by Sage Paul, lighting design by Nick Andison and sound design by Beau Dixon.
Herbie Barnes returns to the Magnus stage to play Arthur Copper. Barnes is an actor, writer and director well known for his work in film, television and stage. He has appeared in Dance Me Outside, The Rez, and Murdoch Mysteries. Some well-known stage roles include Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit at Manitoba Theatre for Young People and Norval Morrisseau in Copper Thunderbird at National Arts Centre. Selected directing credits include Someday and Dinky for Native Earth Performing Arts, Tales Of An Urban Indian for Public Theatre NYC/Autry theatre LA, and Sexy Laundry for Persephone Theatre.
Philippa Domville makes her Magnus Theatre debut as cottager Maureen Poole. Her recent screen credits include the TV series Damnation and Murdoch Mysteries and she has appeared on stage in numerous productions at the National Arts Centre, Stratford Festival and Shaw Festival.
Cottagers and Indians previewed at Magnus Theatre on March 12 and opens on March 13 at 7:30. The show runs until March 28 with a pay-what-you-can performance on March 22.
(Natalia Halec is publicity and development co-ordinator for Magnus Theatre.)