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COLUMN: 'Inventive' play about Indigenous healing debuts Friday

Production, which is 'full of hope', is the first play to focus on the stories of the Indigenous community within the Simcoe County region, says arts columnist
playwright Ziigwen Mixemong
Local playwright Ziigwen Mixemong has written a play, Mno Bimaadiziwin, which tells the story of the resiliency of love, healing and community in the face of collective trauma. It debuts this week at the Orillia Opera House.

Orillians are in for a treat as Theatre by the Bay presents Mno Bimaadiziwin at the Orillia Opera House from Sept. 24 to Oct. 3.

Mno Bimaadiziwin is a play about Indigenous healing, and is Theatre by the Bay’s final production of the season. Mno Bimaadiziwin, meaning “a good life,” tells of the resiliency of love, healing, and community in the face of collective trauma. It takes place as the characters prepare to enter a sweat lodge ceremony on their journeys to wellness.

Theatre by the Bay is breaking new ground in presenting the first new work written by a local Anishinaabe woman to be professionally produced in our area. The production has been created under the direction of many Indigenous community members, including local playwright Ziigwen Mixemong and director Herbie Barnes.

Ziigwen Mixemong is an Indigenous storyteller from Beausoleil First Nation. She represents the Lnu and Bodewadmi nations. Ziigwen’s focus is mainly on play writing, and her previous works include Empty Regalia and 21.

“Ziigwen is an incredibly talented emerging artist from our community,” said artistic director, Iain Moggach. “I am delighted and astonished by the play she has created. It is moving, inventive, and full of hope. It is truly a story for our times: Indigenous or otherwise.”

The production is the first play to focus on the stories of the Indigenous community within the Simcoe County (Treaty 16, 18, and Williams Territories) region. In addition, Theatre by the Bay will work with local Indigenous organizations throughout the run of the show to help build strong relationships to honour the newly established National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on Sept. 30.

Mno Bimaadiziwin will open on Sept. 24 and the run will consist of 11 performances. The show runs for approximately 75 minutes with no intermission. It contains mature themes and language and is not suitable for audience members under 14. Tickets are available through the Orillia Opera House, here.

Culture Days also starts up Sept. 24 and our local Orillia District Arts Council (ODAC) is offering many free and fun things to do, both virtual and in person. For more information about what ODAC is offering, click here. For more information on Culture Days in general, click here.

Sean Patrick, Roger Harvey and SAMMY (Sam Johnston) are putting on a show in aid of Green Haven Shelter for Women, Monday, Sept. 27 at 7 p.m. at Creative Nomad Studios. Tickets are just $10 and are going fast. This will be a wonderful evening of music for a great cause! Get your tickets here.

This week is the last call for the Sustainable Orillia art show, on until Sept. 25 at Hibernation Arts on Peter Street South. Stop by and check out all the art with a sustainability theme, until then. Congratulations Sustainable Orillia on another busy and informative Sustainable Orillia month.

The Orillia Fine Arts Association is hosting its annual Mary Rose Yard Sale this Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at 154 Nottawasaga St. Monies raised go towards the Mary Rose Bursary which is given to each of the high schools in Orillia for graduating students who will be attending post-secondary training in fine art. Come out and support this important fundraiser this Saturday.

Don’t forget to nominate a deserving soul or souls in the Orillia Regional Arts and Heritage Awards. Nominations are due October 18, and the process is a very simple and quick online portal. Think about

who has done what in arts and heritage over the past while, grab some information, and nominate! It is wonderful to acknowledge these special people in our area in this way. All the information, and the nomination portal, can be found here.

Don’t forget about all the fall workshops available at Creative Nomad Studios: the perfect antidote to the fall and rainy blahs which might come upon us now. Click here for all the information and register today!

Don’t forget that today is the first day of requiring proof of vaccination to do a variety of things, including seeing indoor shows, in our area. Download your proof today so you are ready to go!

If you have arts news, send it to annaproctor111@gmail.com by Tuesday at noon to be included.