Children of God is a powerful, uplifting musical about an Oji-Cree family whose children were taken away to a residential school in Northern Ontario. This story of Rita, a mother who was never let past the school’s gate, and her kids, Tom and Julia, who never knew she came, pushes toward redemption.
Produced by Urban Ink, Children of God, premiered in Vancouver in 2017, winning wide acclaim and now on a third national tour that kicked off in Montreal last month. This is a masterwork of esteemed musical theatre artist, composer, and Oji-Cree, Corey Payette.
In a recent interview with the Montreal Gazette Payette says that the musical is a perfect genre to tell this story. “It’s always been the case that musicals have a close link to Indigenous culture, where you cannot share a story without song, you cannot share a song without dance, or without that dance telling a story. That really beautiful circle is the same thing that’s experienced in musical theatre.”
It took him seven years to write and in the course of that time spent researching he interviewed many survivors and their families, distilling the stories into a narrative about resilience, healing and reconciliation. The story of one family’s plight magnifies the experiences of thousands. In the face of heart-breaking conditions and abuses that took place the play embodies the tenacity and power of the Indigenous cultural spirit.
Payette also heard from those that worked in residential schools, about the shame and guilt they feel now. The musical is about “honouring the humanity of all the stories” even of those accountable but also “trapped within the system who were doing what they were employed to do, but now in hindsight could recognize the amount of damage that caused.”
Ultimately the play celebrates resilience, resonates with hope and has audiences on their feet, ready to take the next step. Children of God runs at Surrey Arts Centre March 22 and 23 at 8pm. Due to the potentially triggering content of the performance, Emotional Support Workers will be available to provide support to audience members who may require it.
The transcendent Children of God, a thrilling blend of ancient traditions and contemporary realities, graces the Main Stage at Surrey Arts Centre, March 22 and 23 at 8PM. Tickets are $29-49, including all fees. For advance tickets call Surrey Civic Theatres Box Office at 604-501-5566 or visit tickets.surrey.ca. Tickets will also be available at the door.
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