On Thursday evening I attended a play, Ernestine Shuswap Gets Her Trout. I had heard that it was an all women cast and was about women minorities in the early 1900’s, Native American women to be exact. From the opening scene I could tell that this was going to be one of those theatrical experiences where I was going to have to work to enjoy it. Being the forever optimist I always like to find something to identify with and enjoy in any form of art.
What I found to identify with was in fact myself. This play reignited my inner feminist who hadn’t been disturbed in quite some time. For those of you who haven’t been following my blogging from the beginning I actually started out writing feminist based articles and was published in a Turkish women’s magazine. You can find those posts archived from January to May of this year.
The play is based around four women who are preparing for a white man, the Prime Minister of Canada, to come and have a feast with their tribes and discuss land “rights” between the native people and settlers. This play was written by a native man who supposedly takes great pride in his history. I don’t see that here.
The entire play degrades women. They are running around trying to catch the “best juiciest beaver” to cook for the Prime Minister and laughing and joking about how their language is no longer allowed to be spoken and how the settlers even took the “period” out of their language. For those of you who don’t know much about native culture – a woman’s body and experiences are considered sacred, they give life. Women and men in the native cultures are taught not to joke or make light of a woman’s body.
Now I do have a sense of a humor, at times it can be crass, but watching a play for 3 hours where all that the women were doing is telling “jokes” to one another that sound like they were written by a 15 year old boy was too much for me. In addition to the crass over-the-top humor all of the women spend the whole play talking about what their husbands have done for them and what each husband would and wouldn’t approve of.
These women are supposed to be strong, in reality all they do is run around cursing and throwing sexual innuendo’s into random places. And are so emotionally unstable that they cry and laugh hysterically whenever they get notice that the white’s have taken away another land right. All four of these women were prime stereotypes of how women were, and are, seen.
There was the strong tomboy who won’t ever marry again because her true love was killed tragically. She mentions what his opinion would be at the drop of a hat. The young girl who just wants to settle down and becomes pregnant with her lovers child who is worlds apart from her; a cello playing cowboy to her Catholic Native American. The doting elderly woman who always has to tell you how to live and talk about how great her husband is. Finally, the main character who loves how her husband provides for her and does nothing but talk about their sex lives, think a 1900’s version of Samantha from Sex and the City.
This play was the biggest waste of money and time that I have ever experienced. Not once during the play could I see the point that the play write was trying to make. I had to wade through all of the anti-feminist dialoge and characters to even get a glimpse at what the story was supposed to be about. – The plight of Native Americans when settlers started taking over their land. –