Bisons and Canons: Gabriel Dumont’s Wild West Show

Le Wild West Show de Gabriel Dumont

Gabriel Dumont’s Wild West Show

Illustration by Julie Charland

Gabriel Dumont’s Wild West Show is a large-scale theatre project born of a sense of purpose: to ensure that important parts of the great Canadian story not be forgotten, and that they be passed down to future generations right across the country.

The goal of the creative team is to share the amazing story of Gabriel Dumont, military commander of Louis Riel’s supporters and proud leader of the bison hunt in Batoche, Saskatchewan, and to offer new and revealing insights into the memorial struggles of the Métis uprising of 1870–1885.

The three main authors of this epic – Jean Marc Dalpé, Alexis Martin and Yvette Nolan – assembled a team of seven other writers representing the various communities involved in the historical events represented in the show: Métis, Indigenous, English and French. The authors are David Granger, Laura Lussier, Andrea Menard, Gilles Poulin-Denis, Paula-Jean Prudat, Mansel Robinson and Kenneth T. Williams.

“Each voice must be heard in order to ensure that history is not monopolized once again by the victors… and to avoid reframing our national story to smooth over any inconvenient bumps,” say the show’s creators.

In 1885, following the hanging of his friend Louis Riel, Gabriel Dumont fled to the United States, where he was recruited by the legendary Buffalo Bill, founder of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West, a hugely popular outdoor travelling show that re-enacted life in the American West.

Among Riel’s personal papers, the playwrights found a letter from Dumont in which he stated his dream of putting together a similar rodeo show to tell a different story: the story of the struggle of Canada’s Métis to reclaim their rights.

Over a century later, the aim of the impressive team behind Gabriel Dumont’s Wild West Show is to bring that dream to life by way of a contemporary saga, – accessible, joyous and uninhibited, – that addresses both historic and current realities.

“This show is a celebration of the resilience of these peoples,” says Dalpé.

Gabriel Dumont’s Wild West Show will have its world premiere at the National Arts Centre on October 18, 2017, before touring to Montreal, Winnipeg and Saskatoon during the 2017–2018 season.
 

Prélude magazine – The News
Fall 2017

Guy Warin

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