WHERE THE BLOOD MIXES By Kevin Loring (Playhouse Theatre/Savage Society). June 7-8 at Factory Theatre (125 Bathurst). 416-872-1111. See Openings. Rating: NNNNN
Playwright Kevin Loring’s plays are equal parts poetry and realism. No surprise, since the blend of the spiritual and the everyday is part of his native heritage.
One of several Luminato works exploring Aboriginal concerns past and present, Loring’s Where The Blood Mixes is a world premiere.
It focuses on Floyd, a native man whose daughter, taken into care decades ago by social services, wants to reconnect with the father she barely remembers. Guilty and scared, Floyd must decide whether to have that reunion.
Weaving together resonant, believable dialogue and imagistic sections that rely on visuals, the play deals with reconciliation and healing in the context of the harm done by the residential school system.
“I feel that blend every day,” says Loring from his Vancouver home. “The spirit world exists along with sunlight, darkness and air, whether we’re aware of it or not. It’s part of the Aboriginal belief that all things and moments are endowed with spirit and meaning.
“In my writing, the two are present all the time.”
A member of the Nlaka’pamux First Nation, Loring began the show as a solo graduation piece from Vancouver’s Studio 58. It’s grown into a five-character play that last year won second prize in the Herman Voaden National Playwriting Contest.
What kicked it into high gear was the 2004 CrossCurrents workshop that featured Gary Farmer as Floyd.
“He said that after 35 years in the business, he was still playing another drunk Indian,” recalls Loring. “That’s when I knew I had to revisit the piece. It became a play about life, death and renewal.
“Floyd’s been stuck in a rut for a long time, but reuniting with his daughter Christine is a chance for his rebirth. Maybe surprisingly, it’s Christine who comes to the meeting with the more open heart, though she’s been raised in the city by foster parents. She knows she has to reconnect with her core.”
If you want to catch an earlier Canadian play about native issues, the Playhouse Theatre, which is performing Where The Blood Mixes, gives a reading of George Ryga’s seminal The Ecstasy Of Rita Joe.