Pawâkan Macbeth: A Cree Tragedy

The groundbreaking Pawâkan Macbeth is Indigenous playwright, Reneltta Arluk’s reimagining of Shakespeare’s darkest play into Cree history, legend and cosmology.

Set in Plains Cree territory in the 1870s, before the establishment of First Nations reserves, Pawâkan Macbeth takes place in a time when First Nations warred with each other and the Canadian Government over territory, food supply and trade. Harsh environments brought immense fear, starvation, and uncertainty together to awaken the darkest of Cree spirits, the Wihtiko – an evil being with an insatiable appetite for human flesh.

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“Pawâkan is a dream spirit that comes to you during your rite of passage. For myself, I see it as a guide that reveals itself in its time of need. The Wihtiko can come to you as your Pawâkan and we are told that it needs to be rejected then. I ask, what happens when it arrives and takes you when you are most vulnerable?”   ~ Reneltta Arluk

Inspired from stories shared by Indigenous Elders in Frog Lake First Nation following protocol, Arluk has created a new, visceral experience of Macbeth; a convergence of Shakespeare’s language, modern English, and Cree through poetry and prose. As historical wars are waged with the Cree and Nakoda against the Blackfoot, Macikosisân (Macbeth), a great Okihcitâw (warrior), becomes consumed by the cannibal spirit Wihtiko. He plots with Kâwanihot Iskwew (Lady Macbeth), to kill their Chief, Okimâw Wîpâstim (Duncan). Pawâkan Macbeth is a terrifying journey through love, greed, honour and betrayal, with trickster beings that lie like truth.

Written by Reneltta Arluk (Inuvialuit, Cree, Dene), co-directed by Barry Bilinsky (Métis, Cree, Ukrainian) and Mark Henderson, Pawâkan Macbeth is performed by a talented Indigenous cast featuring: Gilbert J. Anderson, Theron Auigbelle, Mari Chartier, Lancelot Knight, Nathan Loitz, Sophie Merasty, Joel D. Montgrand, Curtis Peeteetuce, Allyson Pratt, Mitchell Saddleback, and Bruce E. Sinclair.

Pawâkan Macbeth’s Edmonton Presentation will run November 23 to 26, 2017 at the ATB Financial Arts Barns in the Westbury Theatre (10330 84 Ave NW). Tickets are $25 for adults, $14 for students (+ fees & taxes) and available at www.tickets.fringetheatre.ca or by phone (780) 409-1910. Follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/akpiktheatre and www.facebook.com/theatreprosperoassociation

The overall purpose of this development, and the Edmonton Presentation is to work towards bringing professional Indigenous theatre into Indigenous communities that generally don’t have access to the arts.

A co-production of Akpik Theatre and Theatre Prospero, Pawâkan Macbeth is produced with the support of Canada Council for the Arts’ New Chapter program*, Edmonton Community Foundation, Edmonton Arts Council, Alberta Lottery Fund and Alberta Foundation for the Arts. *Pawâkan Macbeth is one of the 201 exceptional projects funded through the Canada Council for the Arts’ New Chapter program. With this $35M investment, the Council supports the creation and sharing of the arts in communities across Canada.