The war being waged within
PTE production explores intergenerational Indigenous experiences
Through a play, dance segments and poetry, The War Being Waged takes the stage from Nov. 3 to 21 at the Prairie Theatre Exchange (PTE). Also hosted online from Dec. 2 to 12, it tells the story of three generations of Indigenous women as they try to find their voices and uplift their community.
Darla Contois is a Cree-Salteaux theatre artist and the playwright behind The War Being Waged.
“In general, it is a response to the question we Indigenous peoples ask ourselves every day, and that is ‘What are you fighting for?’ There are so many different contexts that we face today. Am I fighting for myself, or my family, or my people?” Contois says.
Contois was approached by Thomas Morgan Jones, PTE’s artistic director three years ago about working on a commission. After a long process of putting everything together, this production is heading to the stage. This show will also be available for high-school classroom presentations as part of PTE’s virtual tour from March 15 to April 30, 2022.
“It’s been pretty magical and emotional to believe that I wrote this show and that it was on my desk as a couple piles of paper, and now it has got this whole beautiful life. It’s incredible,” Contois says.
One year before rehearsals began, everyone related to the project met and studied the material together to make sure that it was given justice when the time came to perform
it for a live audience.
“These meetings and meaningful conversations have led to an extraordinary process. It is a beautiful and critically important piece of theatre because of the process that brought it to life – and because of Darla’s voice and story at the centre of it all,” Jones says.
This is Contois’ debut as a playwright in a major theatre season. Instead of taking on an acting role, she worked behind the scenes during rehearsals as an associate director alongside Jones, who was responsible for directing this production.
“The process of being an associate director was great, because it allowed me to get involved in the process and have agency over my own story. I really thank PTE and Tom for allowing me to be a part of the process literally the whole way through,” she says.
The playwright is excited for audiences to absorb the real-life struggles and relationships she wrote about and see many different artistic forms taking centre stage.
“It is one of those things in which you have to see it to understand it, but it does take all of those elements (play, poetry, dance) to show the audience all that (Indigenous
peoples) face and all that the characters face. It is all supportive of the story,” Contois says.
Tickets for this production are already available on the PTE website, with limited spots. All seats are $45 each. For more information about The War Being Waged, as well as public-health instructions to be aware of before watching the show, visit pte.mb.ca/performances/the-warbeing-waged.
Published in Volume 76, Number 08 of The Uniter (November 4, 2021)