Sis­ters In So­lace: A prod­uct of co­op­er­a­tion

The Expositor (Brantford) - - LEST WE FORGET - By Xavier Kataquapit

Sis­ters In So­lace, a play that pays homage to the Na­tive sol­diers of Six Na­tions and their non-Na­tive al­lies from the Brant County and Brant­ford area dur­ing the First World War was per­formed on No­vem­ber 5 and 6 at the San­der­son Cen­tre in down­town Brant­ford. The pro­duc­tion fea­tured col­lab­o­ra­tive ef­fort by ac­tors, writ­ers and artists from Brant­ford and Six Na­tions. Sis­ters In So­lace was writ­ten by Vin­cent Ball, a jour­nal­ist with the Brant­ford Ex­pos­i­tor with the guid­ance and con­sul­ta­tion of Cheyenne Wil­liams, a Cayuga mem­ber of Six Na­tions.

“This all started from the work we did on the play Vet­eran of Vimy where we saw a lot of Six Na­tions peo­ple work­ing with non-Indige­nous peo­ple to stage a pro­duc­tion. We saw all this ac­tiv­ity with ev­ery­one at Vet­eran of Vimy last year and we said that this is what the Brant Threatre Work­shops is all about,” com­mented Ball.

He ex­plained that as he wrote Sis­ters In So­lace, he col­lab­o­rated with Six Na­tions mem­bers to cen­tre a story around the Bat­tle of Hill 70 dur­ing the Pass­chen­daele cam­paign in Au­gust 1917. The bat­tle was mem­o­rable as Six Na­tion sol­diers played a sig­nif­i­cant part in it.

“This his­toric bat­tle re­flects the con­nec­tion we wanted to show. You have indige­nous peo­ple, nonindige­nous peo­ple, peo­ple from Brant­ford, Brant County and Six Na­tions all to­gether try­ing to fight and sur­vive,” said Ball.

Wil­liams worked closely with Ball to pro­vide guid­ance and con­sul­ta­tion on the writ­ing of the play.

“We did a lot of work over the year to get this done. It was im­por­tant to us be­cause we wanted to get our Six Na­tions per­spec­tive into Vin­cent’s writ­ing,” said Wil­liams.

She also played the lead fe­male role of Anna Mae along­side Brandy Good­nough who also played the fe­male lead role of Martha. The lead­ing male role of Arn was played by An­drew Hill and main char­ac­ter Mac fea­tured act­ing by Nick King.

Other cast mem­bers for Sis­ters In So­lace in­cluded Sabastien Cud­ney, Marie Coilko, Maya Ya­coub, Barb Miller, Lois Porter, Stephanie Ge­orge, RJ Borg and Brett Miller.

A cer­e­mo­nial greet­ing be­fore the play and per­for­mances dur­ing the pro­duc­tion were pro­vided by tra­di­tional Six Na­tions singer Eli Thomas.

Wil­liams added that the play and the in­clu­sion of a mixed mem­ber cast of indige­nous and nonindige­nous ac­tors and ac­tresses is help­ing to bridge the gap be­tween their com­mu­ni­ties. “The work I have been do­ing with the Brant The­atre Work­shops has al­lowed me to meet many peo­ple and I was sur­prised to dis­cover that many of them have not been to our re­serve. It feels good to share our cul­ture and to work with our neigh­bours in re­mem­ber­ing our his­toric con­nec­tions,” said Wil­liams.

Her son Austin Sil­ver­smith, 11 years of age, played the part of a young Arn.

“This was ex­cit­ing as I’ve never been on a stage this big be­fore. It was a lot of fun and I want to do more act­ing” said Sil­ver­smith.

Cordelia McDon­ald, an Oneida mem­ber of Six Na­tions played the part of Dot in the play.

“I have been act­ing since I was seven and it felt good to be on a big and beau­ti­ful stage. It’s also been spe­cial for me to work with ev­ery­one on so many plays about our Na­tive cul­ture,” said 14 year old McDon­ald.

Peter Miur di­rected Sis­ters In So­lace. Stage Man­age­ment was led by Neo Moore and the de­sign was pro­vided by Gerry Lafleur.

“This was a great op­por­tu­nity for our ac­tors as they were able to per­form in such a pres­ti­gious and his­toric venue,” said Miur.

The open­ing night of the play was per­formed in the evening of No­vem­ber 5 and a sec­ond show­ing was staged on No­vem­ber 6 in the af­ter­noon for lo­cal stu­dents.

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