Koqm is the world premiere of a new theatrical piece by Miâ€™kmaw (Lâ€™nu) storyteller shalan joudry, co-produced by Two Planks and a Passion Theatre and Nestuitaâ€™si Storytelling.
Koqm is a journey through time and land to experience the voices of fictional Lâ€™nu (Miâ€™kmaw) women. Throughout the course of the show we hear and meet the women who might have spoken and walked through one area of forest over centuries. Guided by the strength of an ancient tree (â€œkoqmâ€), the womenâ€™s voices share with us their personal stories of grief, humour and resiliency through a unique theatrical performance that includes story-telling, poetry, dance, and song. The play is directed by Ken Schwartz, with masks and movement by Anne-Marie Kerr.
shalan joudry is a narrative artist working in many mediums. She is an oral storyteller, poet, actor, playwright, podcast producer, and cultural interpreter from Lâ€™sitkuk (Bear River) Miâ€™kmaq Community. shalanâ€™s unique voice and use of Miâ€™kmaw (Lâ€™nu) and English words brings language and art together. Her script is the foundation for this project and is based on cultural and personal narratives.
â€œMuch of our written accounts of Lâ€™nu history in Miâ€™kmaâ€™ki has been recorded not only through the lens of colonial European men but also through the context of their interaction with Lâ€™nu men,” shalan says. “The characterization and role of Mikâ€™maw (L’nu) women, therefore, is not apparent in the written records. As a result, Lâ€™nu women have been â€˜ghostedâ€™ out of history. Our oral teachings, however, are such that we have been taught that the role of Lâ€™nu women has always been deep and wide, from political advice and decision-making for the community to oral storytelling and as knowledge holders. Even when the stories are about the caretaking of immediate family members, the ramifications of this caretaking is more about the entire nation. The purpose of this solo show is to give these forgotten and silenced women a voice. It is an important time in Canada for L’nu women to reclaim our own stories, herstories.â€
Parallel to ecological challenge over centuries of European colonial settlement, just as Indigenous communities and culture have endured, it seems fitting that an old weathered grandmother tree, a Koqm, be our principal image. Throughout the course of the show we will hear and meet the various fictional Lâ€™nu women, who might have spoken and walked through one area of forest over centuries.
Koqm will be performed live at Kingâ€™s Theatre, 209 St George Street, in Annapolis Royal on Friday November 12 and Saturday November 13 at 7:30pm. Please note that proof of vaccination is required to attend. To buy tickets for the show, please contact Kingâ€™s Theatre at 902-532-7704 or visit kingstheatre.ca. Youth tickets are free, but please note the performance is not suitable for very young children.
Photo courtesy of King’s Theatre.