A new Canadian play written by Nlaka’pamux actor and playwright Kevin Loring premieres at the Arts Club next month. Thanks for Giving uses a family’s Thanksgiving dinner to bring to the table themes of colonial history, legacy, and family tension. “I wanted to turn the Thanksgiving dinner on its head and use it as an opportunity to re-examine the narrative of this holiday as it relates to our colonial history,” Loring explains. “I also wanted to explore how that history plays out today on a meta-level through the family dynamics of these characters.”
During this particular Thanksgiving dinner, Nan—a character Loring specifically wrote to be played by Margo Kane—tries to keep the peace. At the centre of the family antics are twins Marie (Tai Amy Grauman) and John (čaačumhi – Aaron M. Wells), whose differences become evident when they both disclose some personal truths. Over dinner, the family members argue about the importance of acknowledging history, while Pa (Tom McBeath) tries to conceal the truth about the sacred grizzly bear he shot. Featuring witty characters, the play effectively balances these serious themes with humour. “It’s kind of like a turkey dinner,” Loring laughs. “There’s a lot on the table.”
The play’s design components are firmly rooted in the setting of the Nlaka’pamux community in Lytton, B.C. Loring invited Set Designer Ted Roberts and Sound Designer James Coomber to Lytton, where Roberts harvested poplar trees to be used in the forested set and Coomber collected traditional song recordings from the early 20th century to be incorporated into the show’s soundscape.
Recently appointed as the first Artistic Director of Indigenous Theatre at the National Arts Centre, Loring is an established Vancouver-based actor and playwright. He has co-curated the Talking Stick Festival, served as Artist-in-Residence at the Vancouver Playhouse Theatre, and served as Artistic Director of the Savage Society, a not-for-profit production company showcasing aboriginal stories through contemporary mediums. Loring’s first published play, Where the Blood Mixes, has been nominated for numerous awards across the country, winning the 2009 Governor General’s Literary Award for Drama and three Jessie Awards for the staged production.
Thanks for Giving is the Arts Club’s 12th Silver Commissions Project produced since the new play development program was established in 2006. Other notable commissions include Onegin (Amiel Gladstone and Veda Hille), The Waiting Room (John Mann and Morris Panych), and Tear the Curtain! (Kim Collier, Jonathon Young, and The Electric Company).
“Loring has impressive control of his craft” —The Georgia Straight
Starring Leslie Dos Remedios (Sam), Tai Amy Grauman (Marie), Margo Kane (Nan), Tom McBeath (Clifford), Andrea Menard (Sue), Shyama-Priya (Bear Dancer), Deneh’Cho Thompson (Clayton), čaačumhi – Aaron M. Wells (John)
Director/Playwright Kevin Loring Set Designer Ted Roberts Costume Designer Samantha McCue Lighting Designer Jeff Harrison Sound Designer James Coomber Dramaturg Rachel Ditor Stage Manager Angela Beaulieu Assistant Stage Manager Colleen Totten