Soho theatre and Riverside Studios are to host four plays about the experience of the indigenous cultures of Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the US in a festival entitled Origins, which runs from 4 to 17 May.
Origins, which will be launched by a Maori welcome ceremony at the Scoop at More London on 4 May, aims to explore the 21st century experiences of First Nations people – the indigenous populations of countries colonised by Westerners – through theatre, film screenings and events. At a time of financial and environmental crisis, Origins considers what can be learned from the respectful relationships indigenous people have with the planet, their heritage and their communities.
Soho theatre kicks off proceedings with Strange Resting Places (4 to 9 May), a play about the Maori Battalion in Italy, written and performed by New Zealanders Rob Mokaranka and Paolo Rotondo and based on their own families’ experiences during World War Two and the Vietnam war.
The festival continues at Riverside Studios with the UK premieres of three plays from Canada, the US and Australia. Daniel David Moses’s Almighty Voice And His Wife (5 to 10 May) tells the story of the legendary 19th century Saskatchewan Cree, who was hunted to death for killing a cow, becoming an accidental martyr and icon. Salvage (12 to 17 May), by Cherokee writer Diane Glancy, offers a picture of Native American culture battling to exist in the contemporary world as a man ruins another family’s life in a car accident. Lastly, Australia’s Yirra Yaakin presents David Milroy’s Windmill Baby (12 to 17 May), a one-woman redemption piece told by Maymay, an old Aboriginal woman who returns to the Kimberley cattle station that was her home 50 years ago.
In addition to theatre, Origins includes film screenings and talks at various locations across London, stand-up from Native American comedian Chuquai Billy at Soho theatre, and storytelling sessions at Riverside Studios.