“Manikanetish”: a first indigenous piece full of humanity for Duceppe
Sharon Fontaine-Ishpatao and Naomi Fontaine in Manikanetish.
There is something significant and moving in seeing on the main stage of the Duceppe Theater a group of actors entirely from the Innu and Micmac nations. This is the first time since its founding 50 years ago that the theater has opened up to the Aboriginal reality.
It is the acclaimed book by Innu author Naomi Fontaine, Manikanetish, which is adapted for the boards of the famous Montreal theater. The book – like the play – tells the partly autobiographical story of this teacher who returns to her native reserve on the North Shore, Uashat, to take care of a high school class and reconnect with her roots.
From the book, the piece retains all the simplicity and humanity. In a simple school gymnasium setting, we meet these schoolchildren, interpreted with authenticity by a majority of non-professional actors. We discover their pain, their resilience, their dream and we witness the beautiful and refreshing solidarity that unites them.
Touches of humor, music performed live on stage and a successful dance segment add happy moments to other more tragic ones.
In the end, the piece is a sensitive tribute to these young people and their culture. Difficult not to be touched on the side of the heart.
Manikanetish is presented until April 8, 2023 at the Théâtre Jean-Duceppe.