Jan 31

‘Agokwe’ tells a valuable story

by Jenna Shummoogum · 0 comments


Waawaate Fobister’s stage presentation of Agokwe is a story of two boys who live on different reserves who find themselves attracted to each other. It’s a story about being different, in a world where being different is a bad thing.

The play opens to Fobister as Nanabush the Trickster, the narrator of the story, who explains what the word Agokwe means: a woman within a man. Nanabush then goes on to explain how there were ceremonies to determine how the Agokwe would be raised, what gender would be assigned to the person. But those were the old days. Nanabush is very up front about the perceptions of the First Nations community. He addresses the criticism that they should just get off the bottle and he mentions what Harper has done to the community. He then tells the story of hockey player Mike and dancer Jake who find themselves having an affinity for each other. But it’s the opposite of what they should be doing, at this age and in the world that they live in. They shouldn’t be ‘fags’ as the community of youth calls them.

All of the characters in the narrative are played by Fobister and he changes his stance and voice as he slides into each character. It allows for each character to be distinguished from each other, but they all read as flat. The people who Fobister has created lack dynamics and depth. The storyline coupled with the sound design nears over-the-top.

There is no doubt that Agokwe deals indirectly with tough issues that are not addressed in this country and tells a story that needs to be heard. And maybe this fact overshadows the execution of the story, but the telling of the story comes off as flat. Fobister doesn’t carry the narrative enough to have the audience be provoked by the story. The elements are there, the message and lessons of the story are definitely present, but Fobister’s presentation though valuable in its telling, doesn’t have the impact for compelling theatre.

Agokwe plays two more nights in the High Performance Rodeo. More information and tickets are available online.

Photo Credit: Marc J Chalifoux Photography

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