“Tales of an Urban Indian”, hosted through the Living Arts Centre until June 3rd, with everything from its setting to its intimacy, and even the unique tale being portrayed, will be a new experience to you.
Superbly written from a first-person (and very visceral) point of view by CBC’s Darrel Dennis, this one-act play is equally so well-performed by Craig Lauzon, a veteran actor and household presence thanks to his years as a regular on Royal Canadian Air Farce.
First off, and uniquely so, the performance unfolds in its entirety on a moving MiWay bus as it navigates the streets and landmarks of Mississauga; it strikes you part of the way through the performance that both the occasional stops and even the bus, itself, act as both scenic pieces and even characters, with the choice of each setting picked to tie in to the environments being represented.
Lauzon superbly uses the the intimate and sometimes claustrophobic bus simultaneously as both a prop and scenery piece, telling the story of Simon Douglas, a contemporary First Nations’ male raised on both a reserve in British Columbia and in Vancouver, who struggles with identity, restrictive cultural barriers––both imposed by others and upon himself, addiction, loss, and, especially, the power of choice.
I sat silently, watching Lauzon portray literally dozens of characters, each with their own singular but recognizable identity; I enjoyed the story with glee and fascination, and at other times avoided making eye contact with the actor, as some scenes bring home truths that we as Canadians, who are not daily impacted by this harsh reality, are sometimes not comfortable facing.
But so too was there laughter, and lots of it, and genuinely human moments, just as some of the tales being told broke your heart.
In the end, you cannot be told what happens during this performance; you have to be there, on that bus, to witness it firsthand and to experience this telling of a modern story shared by so many of the true first people of Canada.
Prepare yourself to feel uncomfortable… and deeply moved.
Visit the Living Arts Centre website to get your tickets.