Cottagers and Indiansby Drew Hayden Taylor
Explore the politics and issues surrounding a real-life event still occurring in the Kawartha Lakes region of Central Ontario.
An Indigenous man, Arthur Copper, has taken it upon himself to repopulate the lakes with wild rice grown by his ancestors over the millennia, much to the disapproval of the local cottagers, Maureen Poole in particular.
The play touches on food sovereignty, property ownership, assimilation, and privilege – issues that Drew Hayden Taylor, an Indigenous playwright from Curve Lake, treats with sensitivity, even-handedness, and humour.
September 22 Performance
For this performance, as a rare treat, the playwright Dr. Drew Hayden Taylor will be in the audience and will take questions at the end of the play. The title gives some indication of the provocative nature of the play. We expect the exchange to be lively.
2023-2024 Season Sponsors
This is a tale that compares the perspectives of two people who are both, along with family and friends, connected to a lake they cherish. One through Indigenous ancestry and heritage, the other through a beloved family cottage. For better or worse, they find themselves in battles over the lake they both hold close to their hearts: canoe vs. Muskoka chair, tradition vs. lifestyle and purpose vs. pleasure.
The Northumberland Players bring Dr. Drew Hayden Taylor’s Cottagers and Indians to the stage at the Firehall Theatre in Cobourg. Dr. Taylor is an award-winning playwright, novelist, essayist and filmmaker originally from the Curve Lake First Nations in Central Ontario. He uses humour to bridge the gap of culturally significant issues in Canada.
Directors Val Russell and Tim Russell, and Producer Jackie Tinson, thoughtfully bring the audience into a real-life event occurring in the Kawartha Lakes region. As Val Russell says in her program notes: “The result is a funny, thought-provoking play that seeks to investigate many issues currently under discussion in our province and country, while also allowing us to explore the importance of storytelling and personal histories in our quest to live harmoniously.”
Arthur Copper (Dean Smith) is an Anishinaabe man who has begun seeding lakes with wild rice (manoomin) near his reserve north of Toronto, in an attempt to re-introduce the grain into his community's regular diet. Maureen Poole (Karen Henkel), a Human Resources professional from Toronto, suddenly finds her beloved lake turning into Arthur’s farm, hindering her and other cottage owners' ability to swim, fish, and enjoy their boats. The worst implication of all? The plummeting property values.
This is Henkel’s first time on stage – a brave undertaking for a role that at times involves monologues that are honest but uncomfortable. Smith’s monologues are patient and educational, and both actors deliver a balanced and quick-witted performance using humour to find footing on cultural differences and stereotypes. As Director Val Russell says: “This is not an angry play, but one that moves towards reconciliation, when the humanity of each protagonist is recognized.”
The set is simple, allowing the audience to focus on the back-and-forth story-telling of each character.
Cottagers and Indians is a conversation piece!
It’s impossible to mention all the names of the amazing volunteers who dedicate their time to bring this production to life but bravo!
Cast & Production Team
More about the show
The Firehall Theatre is located behind Victoria Hall in downtown Cobourg. Seating is general admission.
213 Second St.
Parking is available across Second St. in public lots – please note that this parking is only valid for two hours.
Street parking is available around the theatre.
Cobourg Transit stops less than a block away: Route 1 at :10 and :45, and Route 2 at :15 and :42. For more information, see cobourg.ca.