Saturday, February 14, 2015


Amazingly poetic and spiritual


More than theater this is poetry in the most traditional way they used poetry, music and stage arts in the Middle Ages when civilization was a lot more oral than written. I believe that is the real dimension of this play. It is a production emerging from an oral, still essentially oral civilization.

The second dimension is that it is written by a woman, about women and for women, what’s more Indian women. Otherwise some of the declarations in this text would be absolutely meaningless.

“I demand respect as a woman
I demand respect as an Indian
And I better damn well get respect as an Indian woman. . .
I am your mother
I am your sister
I am your daughter
I am you”

That does not bother me at all, except that it expels me from being the audience of this discourse. She can be my metaphorical mother. She can be my metaphorical sister. She can be my metaphorical daughter. But she cannot be me. The last assertion is not only disturbing. It is just absurdly terroristic. If she wants to be respected in her real being, she cannot in any way deny my being respected in my own being. I cannot be her and she cannot be me, and it is not a question of sex. It is a question of individual freedom. If she wants to be free she has to acknowledge my freedom, the freedom of the audience, otherwise she is not producing a play or even poetry but she would be producing a ritual based on faith that would enable all participants to commune together.

Then you can understand that with such a start this author, this play is literally rejecting the greatest part of its potential audience because it negates the individual nature, essence and existence of others who are metaphorically swallowed up and digested into the author, the person speaking on the stage, the character, the Indian woman these actresses are supposed to embody, impersonate. And yet it is a great play.

The play is about an Indian woman and her fate in this society. She says speaking to another woman: “you showed me that in this / world, we must not let anything / or anyone own our spirit.” But that’s just the drama of that Hokti. She let her spirit be owned, possessed controlled by Alcohol Spirit. In other words she is an alcoholic and the main scene is Hokti in an alcoholic coma in hospital. Her grandparents keep faith in her and consider she is not dead as long as she breathes. Her little sister Lori keeps faith in her because she had promised Lori she will always look after her and Lori cannot imagine she would not keep her promise. The father is rather neutral about the death of his daughter and the mother is relieved. The parents are in a way satisfied that they will not have to go on cleaning up the mess their daughter has been creating. Even worse, the boyfriend or supposed boyfriend Larry is only coming to her death bed to have the parents sign the IOU for all the money he lent Hokti for her to pay for her alcoholic addiction.

But Hokti can hear all that and she becomes desperate. She wants in a way to make up for that mess. Alcohol Spirit is trying all he can to keep her within her addiction. But Strong Spirit moves in and starts counseling Hokti and supporting her decision to change. She is firm enough to be able to come out of her coma and to stick to her decision. And it is all organized around the fight between the two spirits and the use of the first person of the plural by Strong Spirit.

Alcohol Spirit [to Strong Spirit]: You stay out of this. Who are you anyway, this is between me and Hokti.
Strong Spirit: No, this is between you and me. You are no longer a part of our life.
Alcohol Spirit: You can’t send me away just like that.
Strong Spirit: Yes, just like that. You no longer fool us. We can get rid of you. With each breath we take we can make that decision to say you will no longer be a part of us.

At this moment we can wonder if that “we” is immediately referential and covers only Strong Spirit and Hokti, or if it covers the whole Indian community that is symbolically here getting rid of its or their alcoholism. At this moment she becomes able to sing a prayer song and thank Strong Spirit to have brought her back from the dead, and Lori can come in and join in. Hokti’s resolution then becomes the resolution of the whole community: “I will never let alcohol be a part of my life again. Forever. And that is a long, long time.”

This play is thus a story of regeneration and this process is the result of the alliance of magic and medicine represented by a male dancer and a female dancer having a pas-de-deux on the stage.

“medicine became magic
and magic became medicine
the spirits rose, huffing
zipping, puffing, zagging,
singing, and finally settling
over the salty wet earth
with a great

After various small situations and cameos of small characters we can come to the conclusion given by a man as if these women had to speak through a man to come to some prediction about the future. And that conclusion is a whole creed about the possible future the Indian community can build for themselves.

“indigenous nations
daughters and sons
the web of words
swelling the heart
of the hemisphere”

And then we can just keep a few words, “pure spirituality,” “we are what has happened here,” “our children will be what has happened here,” “the earth has always been here” and the final words of this web of words are:

“thank God and Mother Earth
we are here
we are here
so strong!”

And we can feel and hear the junction of the Christian concept of God and the Indian concept of Mother Earth in this new Indian credo. The Indians can survive and even prosper strong and free in North American society because they have been able to bring together the two spiritualities, the two religions. Remember, reconcile and recommit as the Catholic Church has been advocating since the 1970s


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