What is home? Where is home? The Home Project; a joint production of Native Earth Performing Arts and the Howland Company presented by Soulpepper, addresses these questions through three actors personal visions reflecting, in their own way, three aspects of the Canadian experience. The stories are interwoven on a simple set of moving boxes and a few pieces of furniture. The sound stage is more important than the physical stage and aural effects; well handled considering we are outside and there’s plenty of background noise, are crucial.
Nowhere is this more true than in Cheyenne Scott’s First Nations narrative. Losing her Spirit in some sort of catastrophe on the west coast she enters a world of animals; salmon, seagulls and more, who help her on her journey. Tape looping, other sound effects and Cheyenne’s own performance of chants creates a rather beautiful and enigmatic sound world that forms the backdrop on the long journey far to the East to be reunited with Spirit in T’karonto.
Qasim Khan is helping clear out the house is mother is leaving after many years. He is surrounded by images of his childhood and artefacts that will never be used by a gay man who dislikes children. He is haunted by two carpets jammed in the rafters which for him symbolise his long dead father. There’s a long conversation with his father; “a low budget theatre ghost like Hamlet”. The meaning of the carpets is, more or less, revealed.
Akosua Amo-Adem’s story is different again. It’s the story of a Ghanaian girl who came to Toronto as a five year old presented as a stand up act at the Turtle Island Comedy Club. At issue here is growing up Canadian with parents who emphatically refuse to assimilate. Where then is home? The place you became yourself or the distant idea of a place you’ve never known? Once again the issue is handled with grace, energy and lots of (often quite raunchy) humour.
So three very different narratives are woven into a piece of theatre that to me speaks not just about ideas of “home” but of the diversity of the Canadian experience. It’s energetic, haunting, funny and unsettling. And it’s great to be seeing live theatre again. It’s presented in the courtyard of the Young Centre for the Performing Arts and I would advise you to dress warmly because it was freezing last night. But the rest of the run is sold out so that’s redundant.
Photo credits: Dahlia Katz