Gordon Patrick White would hesitate to call his latest performance acting in a legal drama, but underneath the absurdities and laughs, there are serious messages at work—the kind that only satire can deliver.
Little Red Warrior and His Lawyer is Theatre Calgary’s latest production by Governer General’s Award winning playwright, and director Kevin Loring.
White is taking to the stage as Little Red, who through the course of Loring’s work, provides more than a few laughs while at the same time, approaches some of the most difficult questions in Canadian culture around colonialism and Indigenous relations with the legal system.
Legal drama, it is not.
“I think it’s more like an absurd legal performance,” said White.
The play follows Little Red, the last member of Little Red Warrior Nation fighting back against a land development firm with his court-appointed lawyer, all while taking a satirical and absurd turn when Little Red moves in with the lawyer and his wife.
“It goes into like the ridiculousness of some of these systems that we have in place, and pokes everything from our federal and provincial [governments], our supreme courts, and the monarchy,” White said.
“We’re all humans trapped in these systems, and I think it’s to Kevin’s credit that nobody goes untouched—everybody’s got their flaws, and everybody’s not perfect, and Little Red is far from perfect.”
Loring said that as he was writing the first drafts of the production, he was thinking about Trickster stories, and how they often delve into the absurd.
“This is a Trickster fable about land claims, colonialism and lust, where nothing is sacred and no one walks away unscathed,” he said.
Those stories, he said, “are stories of transformation and deception, where nothing is as it seems.”
Sometimes uncomfortable, but always funny
Be ready for just about anything, because who knows what you’re going to get, said White.
“It may offend some viewers, it might make some people uncomfortable, but I think that’s OK,” he said.
Even though the topics get a little heavy, White’s hoping that the wild antics cause audiences to have lots of laughs and leave feeling like they had a good time.
“That’s my big hope,” he said.
“It’s also nice to just be kind of ridiculous. because the show goes into absolute ridiculousness… there’s been a fair bit of laughing in rehearsal, and it’s awesome.”
The production is a first-time partnership between Theatre Calgary and Making Treaty 7 Cultural Society, which both organizations said has been an important way to honour Indigenous stories.
“We look to theatre to highlight the stories of the community we live in, or to show us stories we have not heard before,” said Theatre Calgary Executive Director Maya Choldin.
White is joined by Nick Miami Benz as Lizzy, Luisa Jojic as Desdemona, Kevin McNulty as Flloyd, and Shekhar Paleja as Larry, Little Red’s lawyer.
John Doucet designed the sets for the production, Samantha McCue the costumes, Jeff Harrison designed the lighting, sound design was by Troy Slocum, projection design was by Candelario Andrade.
Tai Amy Grauman was the assistant director, Hailey Verbonac the assistant lighting designer, Angela Beaulieu the stage manager, Becca Jorgensen the assistant stage manager, and Lacy Hill the apprentice stage manager.
The production runs until February 19 at Theatre Calgary. Tickets are available now at www.theatrecalgary.com/shows/2022-2023-little-red-warrior-and-his-lawyer.