Banned Cree play to go forward with performance
Article taken from The StarPhoenix, March 30th 2011.
"The playwright behind an adaptation of the classic Greek tragedy Antigone, which features a corrupt First Nations chief, plans to go ahead tonight with a performance on her home reserve despite being banned from doing so by the local band council.
“We got word last night that the chief and two of the councillors passed a motion to ban Antigone,” said Deanne Kasokeo, who wrote her version of the play in 1998 while enrolled at the University of Saskatchewan.
The play, which is produced by Takwakin Cultural Initiatives, is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Veteran’s Hall on the Poundmaker Cree Nation, located about 200 kilometres northwest of Saskatoon. It is the last show of the current run, which has included performances in Fort Qu’Appelle and on the Sakimay First Nation.
Kasokeo was particularly excited about tonight’s performance, as both she and director Floyd Favel are from Poundmaker.
Kasokeo said they plan to stage the play, with or without the band council’s blessing.
“The show will go on no matter what,” said Kasokeo.
The original version of Antigone was written by Sophocles in 5th century BC. The title character is a woman who wishes to give her brother a proper burial, in defiance of an order by the ruler of Thebes.
Kasokeo’s version is set on a contemporary First Nations reserve that is led by a corrupt chief. She said this character has led to her play being banned.
“I guess the chief feels the play was written about him,” she said.
Chief Dwayne Antoine and two Poundmaker council members voted during a closed meeting Tuesday to ban the play, Kasokeo said.
She denies that the play has anything to do with Antoine or any other real person. The play was originally staged at Regina’s Globe Theatre in 1998, well before Antoine led the Poundmaker Cree Nation, she said.
“It has nothing to do with politics,” said Kasokeo. “The chiefs and our councillors feel it’s about them. That’s their problem. It’s not our problem.”
She said she first heard the band council was concerned about the play about a week ago.
“We sent a letter as well as a script to show the play wasn’t about him,” she said.
Favel said he and Kasokeo have contacted the RCMP and been told the band council does not have the right to bar them from a community hall. He said they will use a police escort if necessary to gain entry.
Kasokeo says being banned came as a big surprise. The entire company was disappointed.
“We just think it’s tragic that our freedom of speech is being violated,” she said.
Calls to the Poundmaker band office Wednesday were not returned by the chief or councillors.