A play with opera, Paper Canoe Projects and Cahoots Theatre partner with Native Earth Performing Arts for the world premiere production of I Call myself Princess written by Jani Lauzon. Including music by Charles Wakefield Cadman, and directed by Cahoots Artistic Director Marjorie Chan, this production will make its debut at Aki Studio, September 9-30, 2018.
Seen and Unseen worlds collide as Tsianina appears to William, the two learning from each other as he makes a decision about his future as an artist. Combining drama, biography, and contemporary opera, this interdisciplinary work explores the tension between representation, inspiration and cultural appropriation.
I Call myself Princess is inspired by and features music from, Shanewis: The Robin Woman, the real opera about Tsianina Redfeather composed by her creative partner Charles Wakefield Cadman, an American composer in the early 1900’s who was part of a musical movement using Indigenous music to create a distinct North American musical identity.
“By today’s standard, Cadman’s opera would be considered sexist, racist and naïve,”says playwright Jani Lauzon. “But it was popular culture of the times, and in many ways reflective of the changing landscape of Indian identity. Paralleling music and scenes from the opera with contemporary characters like William Morin and his boyfriend Alex Park, this play only begins to unravel the complex web of ‘Indian’identity today.”
Playwright Jani Lauzon is a multidisciplinary artist of Métis ancestry. She recently directed The Monument (Factory) for which she received the Toronto Theatre Critics Award for Best Director; Alien Creature (Theatre Passe Muraille), two short films eu·tha·na·sia and Just One Word, which she also wrote and produced. Some of her other plays include The Scrubbing Project (with Turtle Gals Performance Ensemble), A Side of Dreams and Prophecy Fog. Jani is also an award-winning film actor, a six-time Dora Mavor Moore nominated actress, a Juno-nominated singer/songwriter, and a Gemini Award-winning puppeteer.
Director Marjorie Chan is a multi-disciplinary theatre artist working as playwright, librettist, director and dramaturge. A six-time nominee, Marjorie is the recipient of four Toronto Dora Awards, one for Outstanding Performance and three for Outstanding New Opera. She has received the K.M. Hunter Artist’s Award in Theatre for the breadth of her work; a Harold Award for her community contribution to the theatre industry in Toronto; and the George Luscombe Award for Mentorship in Professional Theatre. Marjorie was previously Artist-in-Residence at Banff Playwrights’ Lab, Cahoots Theatre, Factory Theatre, Theatre Direct Canada, Tapestry New Opera, SUNY (Geneseo, New York), and Theatre du Pif (Hong Kong). She has been the Artistic Director of Cahoots since 2013.
The cast of I Call myself Princess features mezzo-soprano Marion Newman, Kwagiulth and Stó:lō First Nations, as Tsianina Redfeather (Klee Wyck Woman with Emily Carr String Quartet; Bearing, Luminato Festival), Aaron M. Wells, Ehattesaht and Lax Kw’alaams First Nations, as William Morin (Children of God, National Arts Centre), multi-award winning artist and musician Richard Greenblatt as Charles Wakefield Cadman (2 Pianos 4 Hands Co-Creator); Dora Award-winning Courtney Ch’ng Lancaster as Nelle Eberhart (Of Human Bondage & Incident at Vichy, Soulpepper); and multi-disciplinary artist Howard J. Davis as Alex Park (Bombay Black, Factory; Pygmalion & Sweet Charity, Shaw Festival).