Winnipeg’s theatre scene is set to have an impressive 2019/20 season. A focus on new works by local playwrights will have theatre-goers exploring fresh and challenging perspectives. A big part of that conversation this year is related to Indigenous theatre and storytelling – and nowhere is that voice more prominent than at Prairie Theatre Exchange (PTE).
The first foray into a multi-year commitment to showcase Indigenous works, PTE has launched an electrifying and funny new dark comedy, The Third Colour. Written by Ian Ross, the play focuses on the history of Canada told from an Indigenous perspective – and from the eyes of two women who have experienced that history first-hand from the first European ships landing to the present day. It’s a history of Canada not often heard, but one that is well worth sharing.
Ross, an Indigenous author with strong Winnipeg roots, has penned a script that is bursting with metaphors and comedic timing. You may feel like you need to see The Third Colour more than once to pick up on all the nuances and subtle references peppered throughout the script. The witty dialogue keeps a sharp pace throughout the play’s 75-minute run (with no intermission).
There’s a lot to unpack in the script, touching on many aspects of post-colonial Indigenous-Canadian history. As you might expect, the characters are living with some anger from how they have been treated by colonists over the centuries, while touching on the human and individual side of what it means to be Indigenous in this country. For those who don’t live that experience daily, it’s an important reminder of the effect that colonial history in Canada continues to have for so many people.
For a play that deals with such heavy subject matter, there are quite a few laugh-out-loud moments. The two-person cast of Kathleen MacLean and Tracey Nepinak build off each other with solid jokes and physical comedy. You don’t need to be a history buff to get the punch lines – The Third Colour carries along the entire audience for the ride, even if you don’t pick up on all the historical references. The comedic timing by MacLean and Nepinak is engaging, picking up speed as the characters interact with each other and the broader world around them.
PTE’s set designers always do so much with their space to help bring each performance to life. The sound and lighting in The Third Colour are an integral part of setting the tone and moving the story along. A gorgeous set will immediately catch your eye, and is used to set both a comedic and dramatic tone.
Despite the serious subject matter, The Third Colour proves itself to be an entertaining story that benefits from engaging performances and set design. You won’t want to miss this unique theatrical experience.
The Third Colour runs until October 20 at Prairie Theatre Exchange, with tickets on sale now.