Tai Amy Grauman
Photo: Benjamin Laird



The Cultch in association with Savage Society
You used to call me Marie… by Tai Amy Grauman

When & Where April 18 – 14, 2024; evenings at 7:30pm, matinees on Sat & Sun at 2pm | York Theatre, 639 Commercial Drive, Vancouver

Director Lois Anderson Assistant Director Michelle Olson Set Designer Cecilia Vadala Costume Designers Alaia Hamer & Evan Ducharme Projection Designer Candelario Andrade Lighting Designer Jeff Harrison Music & Composition Andrea Menard, Kathleen Nisbet,& Krystle Pederson Sound Designer Aaron Macri Choreography Yvonne Chartrand
Stage Manager Erika Morey

Reviewer John Anthony Jane

The Canadian Constitution recognizes three groups of Indigenous peoples: First Nations, Inuit and Métis. Of those three peoples, Métis are the most difficult to define. Since the late eighteenth century, they have been effectively acknowledged as a distinct Indigenous people with both First Nations and Euro-Settler ancestry.

As part of the ongoing Femme Festival, You used to call me Marie written by Alberta Métis Tai Amy Grauman is presented as a cultural and historical drama with added music. It is also an epic love story that centres on a simple Métis woman and her soul-mate. Throughout the play we follow eight interconnected stories of two star people, who reincarnate to their earth bodies.

The past tense use in the title of Grauman’s play is due to the protagonist being based on the playwright’s maternal ancestor. The story spans over a hundred and fifty years from the signing of Treaty 6 in the summer of 1876 up to the present time. The play doesn’t spend much energy on the negative effects of Treaty 6 that promised health care, education, hunting rights and freedom for indigenous nations, but very little for Métis.

Tai Amy Grauman and Aren Okemaysim are the empyrean lovers who were meant to be together. They provide positive stage magnetism. Grauman and Okemaysim’s endearing relationship with the “horses” – all played upright by humans – is one of the play’s most charming features.

Krystle Pederson’s excellent vocals on original songs and Kathleen Nisbet’s fiddle playing provide an entertaining counterpoint to the play’s serious premise. Lois Anderson’s economic direction helps the play maintain an even pace, while successfully shielding it from some glaring flaws.

Alaia Hamer and Evan Ducharme’s handsome clothing contribute to the production quality; helping the audience realize which particular time period being conveyed – which wasn’t always readily indicated by the scenic design.

On the debit side, I would like to see the dialogue strengthened – especially with the narrative – that constantly fell back on phrases like “Time passes.” That aspect didn’t appear to diminish the audience’s enjoyment of the play; giving the company a standing ovation.

© 2024 John Anthony Jane