by Lynn on October 26, 2016

in The Passionate Playgoer

At Young People’s Theatre, Toronto, Ont.

Native American adaptation by Drew Hayden Taylor
From the Irish play Tir Na N’Og by Greg Banks
Directed by Greg Banks
Composed by Anne Lederman
Costumes by Robin Fisher
Set and Lighting by Glenn Davidson
Cast: Cameron Johnston
Lisa Nasson
Brianne Tucker
Musicians: Anne Lederman
Nicholas Delbaere-Sawchuk

A spirited production of the enchanting story of a magical, mystical horse that brings the past and the present together for a father and his two children who are trying to find their place in the world.

The Story. From the program: “Jessie and Angelina (two sisters) are trapped between the urban world they inhabit with their father and the rural life their grandfather and ancestors once possessed. In their struggle to keep their horse Wildwind, Jessie and Angelina experience the support and love of their family, both past and present, while also learning that they have the agency to find happiness they seek—not just for themselves but for their father as well.”

The Production. With a minimum of props and set pieces the cast of three focus on the story and the mysticism of it. Cameron Johnston not only plays Pa and Grandpa with emotional investment, he also plays the Spirit Horse, a spirited horse named Wildwind and a frisky dog among others. Lisa Nasson plays Angelina and Brianne Tucker plays Jesse her sister. There is a strong bond between the sisters because of the committed actresses playing them. They all bring out the heart and emotion of the story. Integral to the story-telling is the music of Anne Laderman who is one of the lively musicians, along with Nicholas Delbaere-Sawchuk. Director Greg Banks guides his cast to tell the story in a brisk 55 minutes without losing any of the details and heart of the story.

Comment: Spirit Horse is based on the play Tir Na N’Og by Greg Banks. Tir Na N’Og takes place in Ireland and is about gypsies and mystical horses. Native Canadian, Drew Hayden Taylor was commissioned to adapt Tir Na N’Og for a Canadian setting, specifically the Stoney Nakoda people of Alberta. He’s done a beautiful job, although I’m not comfortable with the note in the program that describes it as “Native American adaptation by Drew Hayden Taylor.” I know the production has played in the States. That does not make it a Native American adaptation. And to further cement that this is a Canadian effort, Mr. Taylor is an Ojibway writer from Ontario. The play illuminates the hold of the past and importance of traditions to give all of us confidence and a sense of home and a place we can call ours.

A Roseneath Theatre Production presented by Young People’s Theatre

First Performance: Oct. 18, 2016.
Closes: Oct. 28, 2016.
Cast: 3; 1 man, 2 women; 2 musicians
Running Time: 55 minutes.

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