Hamlet, the Maliseet
To be or not to be Amerindian?
This play is closely connected to the encounters that took place over the years between Ondinnok and young Aboriginal aspiring actors. Maliseet, Innu, Huron-Wendat or Atikamekw, these individuals had in common that, against all odds, they took the decision to become full-fledged artists.
In November 2002 in collaboration with The National Theatre School of Canada, Ondinnok held a pilot theatre-training workshop for Aboriginals. One of the participants was Dave Jenniss, a young Maliseet. The intensity of his desire to be an actor and the identity questions that tore at him prompted Ondinnok to propose that he embody this contemporary, Aboriginal Hamlet. A question haunts him: to be or not to be Amerindian?
Ondinnok appropriated the argument of Shakespeare’s Hamlet and diverted it into ones own Aboriginal identity and spiritual codes. Dave, a young urban Amerindian is searching for himself. He is also hunting for who his father is. The young actor wants to show a Hamlet from his Maliseet reserve of Kinogamish. Little by little he discovers that he is Hamlet! Just like Hamlet’s father, his father, in the past a hostile Amerindian, had been gotten rid of by his mother’s new lover – the chief of the reserve. This is a story of impossible love in which Dave, to his horror, discovers he loves his own sister who, pregnant with his child, commits suicide as does Ophelia. While Dave is indignant about the corruption and the cultural decay that surrounds him and, like Hamlet, wants justice, he above all wants to act in order to survive – for himself to survive.
2004 June 1 to 19 – Montreal, American Can
Playwrights: Jean-Frédéric Messier & Yves Sioui Durand
Director: Jean-Frédéric Messier
Actors: Karine Awashish, Charles Bender, Yvon Dubé, Dave Jenniss, Marjolaine McKenzie, Jacques Newashish & Kathia Rock
Set Designers: Frédéric Lessard, Marie-Claude Pelletier & Sharon Scott
Musicians: Jacques Awashish & Kathia Rock
Costume Designer: Ginette Grenier
Lighting Designer: Geoffrey Levine
Video Designer: François Péloquin
Illustration: Raymond Dupuis
Makeup Designer: Suzanne Trépanier
Fight Director: Huy Phong Doan
Assistant Director: Annie Beaudouin
Technical Director: Patrice Moïse
Photographer: Benoit Aquin
Graphic Art: Corbeau blanc Design
Communications Director: Lucienne Losier
Media Contact: Karine Cousineau