Little Red Warrior and His Lawyer’s Journey to the NAC Stage

Little red warrior curtis perry resized-1
Craig Lauzon and Shekhar Paleja star in Kevin Loring's Little Red Warrior and His Lawyer © Curtis Perry

Some things are worth waiting for.

Over the past 18 months, NAC Indigenous Theatre Artistic Director Kevin Loring’s satirical play, Litte Red Warrior and His Lawyer, has challenged and entertained audiences from Victoria to Ottawa.  A huge impact from its first performance, this play has been decades in the making.

Kevin was a second-year student at Studio 58, Langara College’s Theatre School in Vancouver when he began to write this play, inspired by a summer job as an Indigenous observer for a logging survey company. He travelled to an untouched watershed and believed that by finding proof that Indigenous people had been there for thousands of years that he would help save the land.

Young Kevin found that proof—culturally modified cedar trees, which are living trees that have been visibly altered or modified by Indigenous Peoples for usage in their cultural traditions, and old trails. To Kevin’s surprise, the band that employed him used his findings as leverage to hire their own loggers to log the watershed. This experience caused Kevin to question his own viewpoints about what it means to be Indigenous and a caretaker of the land. “What it was really about was sovereignty,” Kevin says. “For the First Nations to have control over their own land to do what they chose.”

And thus, Little Red Warrior was born.

This satirical “hero’s journey” in which none of the characters are heroes or even particularly likable, has undergone quite a journey itself; from a one act-play at Studio 58 in Kevin’s student years; to many play readings including one of the first Kevin had as Artistic Director of Savage Society.

Over the years Kevin distinguished himself as a highly accomplished playwright, actor, and director, and as the creator of the Governor General Award-winning play, Where the Blood Mixes. Throughout all of this, Little Red Warrior and His Lawyer was never far from his mind.

“I would pick up the script or have a reading every couple of years or so,” says Kevin. “Each time, I would ask myself, ‘Does this still make sense?’ And I found that as time passed, the play made even more sense as conversations around the issues raised in it became even more prevalent in society.”

The Little Red Warrior we meet on stages today across Canada is much the same as the vision Kevin put to paper more than 20 years ago. “I have adjusted a few things to make it more current, like replacing pagers with cellphones,” Kevin shares.

And that long journey to the stage? “It provided me with a sense of satisfaction,” Kevin says “Though I never really consider anything I create to be finished; there are always little adjustments.”

A true artist.

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