A contemporary twist on Indigenous Trickster tales
As a proud Nlaka’pamux from the Lytton First Nation, Kevin Loring is deeply committed to using his artistry to tell the stories of Indigenous peoples and bring attention to pressing issues. His contributions to the arts and his community are widely recognized and celebrated.
He is a highly accomplished playwright, actor, and director, currently serving as the Artistic Director of Indigenous Theatre at the National Arts Centre. Through his art, he provides a powerful voice for Indigenous culture and history, working to promote awareness, understanding, and appreciation.
In association with Theatre Calgary, the Belfry Theatre and Savage Society, the NAC is thrilled to welcome Kevin Loring’s Little Red Warrior and His Lawyer in May. This biting satire which follows Little Red, the last surviving member of the Little Red Warrior First Nation, has received many enthusiastic reviews.
“Little Red Warrior and His Lawyer is so relentlessly irreverent and surprising... For the majority of the show, I was grinning my face off.”
“I’m super excited! It’s a lot of fun. It touches on some hot topics leaving the audience with something to think about,” says Loring when asked about the upcoming presentation of the production at the NAC.
Little Red wakes up one day and discovers that a development is under construction on his ancestral land. So, he runs in, attacks a developer, and gets arrested. At the jail, he meets his court-appointed lawyer, who devises a plan to get Red his land back. We follow Red on this journey, but it’s pretty heightened... and hijinks ensue!”
More than 20 years ago, Loring conceived the idea for the play during his theatre studies in Vancouver. As he delved into classic European farces, including those by renowned French playwright Molière, he was reminded of the traditional creation stories of his Salish-speaking Indigenous culture; stories that originate from the interior of what is now British Columbia.
“I was taking a playwriting class and wanted to write a comedy about land claims. Through these classic European farces, mixed with the Coyote Trickster stories of my own culture, filtered through my own experience, Little Red Warrior came out,” he says.
Little Red Warrior and his Lawyer is what’s called a Trickster Fable—in the storytelling structure, we are taken through the play from the storyteller’s perspective: the Trickster.
“There are many interpretations of Trickster across Turtle Island. For us, it’s a Coyote. Coyote, or Snk̓y̓ép, was present in all these stories I heard growing up and created a world through their adventures. Coyote is vain. He’s scheming, always trying to get the advantage, and has magic powers to transform the world,” explains Kevin Loring.
Although the play touches on weighty topics such as land usage, sovereignty, colonialism, and the historical exclusion of First Nations from having rights to their land, Loring notes that audiences always burst with laughter during the show.
“Anyone who was at... Governor-General award-winning playwright Kevin Loring’s Little Red Warrior and His Lawyer will never hear someone summon “The Queen” again in the same way.”
Stephen Hunt, CTV News Calgary
“It’s certainly about Indigenous sovereignty, but it challenges—in a very satirical form—experiences and realities about Canada, colonialism, our history, our relationship with First Nations people and First Nations people’s relationship with the rest of this country. It deals with many really heavy things, but it pokes fun at everything and everyone. In Trickster stories, nobody gets away unscathed.”