Monday, February 9, 2009

Pox!


The Hanging Tree of Dog Creek


In 1871, in the town of Dog Creek, six Secwepemc sisters fell in love with the same stranger, probably a M├ętis packer working for the Hudson's Bay Company. Since none of them could have him, and all of them couldn't have him, they settled the matter by hanging themselves from this tree on the edge of the grasslands north of town. Their father cut them down in the morning and buried them on the hillside in behind.

That's the story. Given that British Columbia joined confederation in 1871, given that the Indian Act was radically altered, and that the ranching economy had collapsed and was being consolidated, I really think there was a lot more power involved in this story than that.

The play, Pox!which won in Theatre B.C.'s National Playwriting Competition explores white/native relations in the context of ongoing land claims struggles in the B.C. Interior. It is a black comedy, a trickster and gambling comedy, in which Smallpox and The Hanging Judge change places as they struggle for control over the ghosts of the six Secwempemc girls, and it's going to be workshopped in Kamloops on the Easter Weekend. It's kind of a love story for fifteen years that I spent on those grasslands, and was two years in the making. I'm looking forward to seeing how it looks as it starts to climb onto the stage.

Here's the shadow the tree casts into the bunchgrass.