Battle of the Birds tells a mighty story of epic struggle (and very human realities)
'The scope and scale of these stories is actually very similar to Greek mythology'
In the season premiere of CBC Arts: Exhibitionists, Amanda Parris heads to Ottawa to celebrate the launch of the Indigenous Theatre at the National Arts Centre. Stream the season premiere now on CBC Gem or on CBC TV Friday September 20th at 11:30pm (12am NT) or Sunday September 22nd at 3:30pm (4pm NT).
Lytton, B.C. is the hometown of director Kevin Loring, who heads up not-for-profit theatre company Savage Society and is also the Artistic Director of Indigenous Theatre at the National Arts Centre, which launches today in Ottawa. So, he has a lot on his plate. But while he was at home this summer (and about to start his own vacation), Loring re-staged his production Battle of the Birds for (and with) the local community.
Battle of the Birds tells stories that have been handed down through generations of storytellers. They were also captured on wax cylinder recordings from about a hundred years ago, made by ethnologist James Alexander Teit. It was these recordings that inspired Loring to retell a story he'd heard from his own elders. He says, "I think all of these stories have amazing lessons and things that they offer – insights. With Battle of the Birds, it's about domestic violence. But not just domestic violence with anybody – it's a leader in the community. The scope and scale of these stories is actually very similar to Greek mythology. They involve these epic struggles, but also very human realities are embedded within each of the stories."
In this video made by filmmaker Daniel Lins da Silva, you get a glimpse of Battle of the Birds. And Loring opens up about why it's so meaningful that Indigenous Theatre is taking its place at the nation's art centre: "I think we in the Indigenous theatre community have always felt sort of like we needed a place at the National Arts Centre, at the nation's arts centre. I think the institution realized that it was well past time to start something like this. So it's a big deal, it's a huge opportunity for Indigenous artists across the country and we will present, in our first season, international Indigenous artists."
Mòshkamo, the Indigenous Arts Festival, is on at the National Arts Centre (NAC) in Ottawa until September 29. On the season 5 premiere of CBC Arts: Exhibitionists, we go behind the scenes of the launch of the Indigenous Theatre at the NAC.
Stream the season premiere of CBC Arts: Exhibitionists now on CBC Gem or watch it on CBC TV Friday September 20th at 11:30pm (12am NT), or Sunday September 22nd at 3:30pm (4pm NT)