I had the chance to enjoy Taran Kootenhayoo’s White Noise at Firehall Arts Centre. It runs from April 15th-May 7th, 2023. The story begins when an Indigenous family moves into West Point Grey because their son creates a very successful app. Windwalker (played by Braiden Houle) is proud that he is able to move his family into this very nice neighbourhood. When Ashely Manning (played by Anita Wittenberg) realizes that the new neighbours are Indigenous, she vows to befriend them. She desperately wants to engage with her new neighbours and learn all about their customs and culture; however, this over-the-top enthusiasm made me question her
authenticity. Did she truly want to connect and understand or did she simply want to look “progressive”? In spite of it all, Ashley was very funny and lively on stage. She seemed to have good intentions but definitely missed the mark. Their daughter Jessika Manning (played by Anais West) was motivated to befriend the new neighbours in order to get clout on social media. Jessika’s obsession with her online image was hilarious to watch. Very entertaining. There is an underlying and shameless agenda of trying to get Jessika to gain more followers on social media, as she planned to stream throughout the evening showcasing how “woke” her family is. The patriarch of the family, Jason Manning (played by Mike Wasko) was pretty unlikable as a character because he was so out of touch and not really interested in learning about the Indigenous experience. He did an excellent job portraying his role. Deneyu (played by
Jonathan Fisher) was very humorous. He was religiously reading a book called “How to Deal with White People”, which had the audience howling with laughter. His wife Tse’kwi (played by Cheri Maracle) was very strong and powerful in her presence. She was understandably defensive and protective of her family and her people.
Ashley invites the new neighbours over to her home for a dinner party in order to get to know them. Chaos ensues at the dinner party at the Manning residence as dinner conversation becomes heated and highly emotional. Jason and Tse’kwi go at it at the table, each defending their point of view. Windwalker and Jessika try to keep the peace and get their parents to calm down. Windwalker tried to keep his cool and wanted to get along with the neighbours, especially with Jessika. It seemed that the two had a little love connection, which was nice to see. I must say that there were moments in they play where I felt incredibly uncomfortable because it was very real and hit close to home. Racism, discrimination and hate are still very much palpable for Indigenous people and people of colour. Living in such a diverse and multi-cultural country, one might think that the people of Canada are accepting and that racism is
minimal. This is far from the truth. Racism and acts of violence towards people of colour is as prevalent as ever. It saddens me to read articles and watch the news, as every time I do, there is news of violence and crime. I am also aware that there are parts of the world, where the social climate is unbearable and war-torn. As a born and raised Canadian, I do feel blessed to live here and acknowledge that Indigenous people were in fact here first. I hope that one day we can all be a united front, as a peaceful nation. Something we can do is be mindful of our own actions and behaviours as well as advocate for Indigenous rights in Canada.
Showtimes: Tuesday: 7:30pm, Wednesday: 1:00pm & 7:30pm, Thursday: 7:30pm, Friday: 7:30pm, Saturday: 3:00pm & 7:30pm
Pay-What-You-Can: Tuesdays at 7:30pm, Wednesdays at 1:00pm
Tickets: $20-45, sliding scale in $5 increments.