Dry Lips Oughta Move to Kapuskasing. CTE photo. Tomson Highway. Tragi- comedy drama in two acts by Tomson Highway, first produced in. Nominee, Governor General’s Literary Award for Drama Dry Lips Oughta Move to Kapuskasing tells another story of the mythical Wasaychigan Hill Indian. This article reconsiders the place of hockey within Tomson Highway’s play Dry Lips Oughta Move to Kapuskasing, ultimately arguing that the re-evaluative.
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Moreover, as a sport that has been adopted and adapted by First Nations communities, hockey provides an ideal reflection of what Highway is doing with Euro-Canadian dramatic conventions, on a micro-scale, and with colonial traditions and powers, on a macro-scale. Just as the female hockey players force spectators to reconsider what hockey means, so too does Highway force his audience to reconsider what constitutes theatre, and, in so doing, reflect on how they distinguish between First Nations and European culture.
Wagamese is here tying together the desire to own and dominate the game of hockey with the overarching compulsion to conquer and claim space, cultures, histories, and so on. First Nations hockey players, then, act as a challenge to lingering colonial ideologies. On the level of plot, the challenge appears as a number of women in the reservation community of Wasaychigan Hill decide that they want to play and compete in hockey, thereby disrupting already unstable gender roles.
On an extra-textual level, the play resists colonial power through its use and abuse of European theatrical conventions, a disruption that speaks to movf potentially adaptive nature of culture.
Dry Lips begins with the announcement kxpuskasing the female members of the Wasaychigan community have decided to take up hockey.
The male characters, for the most part, do not react positively and feel emasculated by this change. Highway connects these memories with the present-time world of the reserve, where the audience witnesses Dickie Bird Halked rape Nanabush in the guise of Ouughta, one of the female community members while Big Joey looks on.
Despite its horrific events, the end of the play bespeaks hope for the future, as we learn that Zachary, a community member who hopes to bring some degree of economic stability to the reserve by opening a bakery, has dreamt the whole thing. In the final scene, we see Zachary awaken from this dream and turn towards his baby, laughing and speaking to him in Ojibwe.
Early in the play, Pierre St. This article proposes that the revolution at the level of plot extends outward and works analogically with the text itself. If hockey is revolutionary within the world of the play, the play is revolutionary within the world at large. Highway sees this need to reconsider as the kapuskasinh way oguhta, both for colonizers and colonized:.
Returning to the play, we will devote the remainder of the essay to demonstrate through close textual analysis how hockey comes to stand for the theatre as a potentially revolutionary space of cultural hybridity. As Monique Mojica contends, First Nations theatre plays with the conventions and tools of European theatre to create its own decolonizing productions qtd.
Within Dry Lips, the Trickster figure is Nanabush, and she appears both to relieve dramatic tension and to provoke action from the male characters.
Trickster also often configured as Coyote has a key role within indigenous drama, as Mojica and Ric Knowles explain in the introduction to their anthology of Native drama in Canada:. In Dry LipsNanabush deconstructs, and thereby helps, the community to reconstruct its identity and its sense of unity. At an extra-textual level, the presence of Nanabush transforms not just non-Native theatre, but the oighta worldview by introducing this other mode of perception.
Through the Trickster character and narrative, Highway challenges European colonial imperialism. The colonial culture is reinvented, opened up to transformation by a figure who symbolizes that very thing, just as hockey, at the level of plot, is adopted and adapted by figures who do not traditionally have access to it.
Dry Lips Oughta Move To Kapuskasing
The double level serves several important functions: While the female hockey players remain unseen to the audience, we hear both mvoe sounds of pucks hitting the boards and the women shouting at the same time as we see the men screaming at them from the bleachers and Big Joey broadcasting lipps game. The action thus moves between the auditorium and the stage, implicating the audience in the cultural redefinition that the Wailerettes represent.
The scene that follows is one of domestic or private conflict between Big Joey ouhta Zachary over their wives and their disparate community projects: Zachary wants to start a bakery, Big Joey a radio station.
The hockey program emanating from the television offers a foreshadowing backdrop that ouvhta these characters and the fictional community of Wasaychigan Hill into a larger Canadian context that will not only be familiar for many non-Native Canadian audiences but may also provoke feelings of national affiliation. The connection we are meant to draw is a complex one. Pierre disrupts this civilized space with news that challenges both the rules of the nation and the rules of hockey.
Within the first moments of the play, hockey is already an access point to larger issues. In Junethe Canadian Association for Theatre Research held a panel at their annual conference on sports and performance theory. As the panel chair, Peter Kuling, states in his call for papers: Reading theatre through the lens of professional sports thus offers new possibilities for thinking about performance, audience experience, and ho impact.
Canadian Theatre Encyclopedia – Dry Lips Oughta Move to Kapuskasing
Scholars such as Dennis Kennedy, Sarah S. Montgomery, and Michael D. Robinson argue that theatre and sporting events are both performances that affect spectators on intellectual, kapiskasing, and even physical levels. Muddy Cows is particularly interesting in its focus on a group of female rugby players whose locker kapuwkasing discussions kapuskasiny their sexuality and the misogyny or, at the least, chauvinism they face as female athletes.
Overall, these plays are sites of political resistance, a space where systemic oppression and societal institutions can be held up for analysis and even challenged. The appropriation of baggataway and its renaming as lacrosse is therefore an unapologetic act of colonial appropriation. Later, however, lacrosse became a modern sport with deliberate work-week schedules that disallowed working class participation; it was gentrified As a key component of nationalism, we can also understand hockey as not merely an act of appropriation but as a colonizing force, another assimilatory measure.
The entrance of First Nations players into the NHL was precipitated in part by their own hockey leagues, hockey leagues that sprung up in reserve communities in the face of their exclusion from town leagues.
Since then a number of Aboriginal players such as Jordan Tootoo, Gino Odjick, and Jonathan Cheechoo have made enormous contributions to the sport by opening spaces for future Aboriginal athletes. Further, as Robidoux argues, rather than simply an instance of assimilation, the First Nations approach to the game reflects their own cultural heritage and values, alongside those of the European colonizer: In First Nations communities, hockey is used in conjunction with the medicine wheel as a mode of communal healing; community-based hockey tournaments similarly provide opportunities for community gathering, not unlike a pow wow These dgy tournaments and games become fodder for storytelling, providing enough drama and humour to create narrative In this respect, Highway frames hockey as a vehicle of resistance against the patriarchal and colonial systems that oppress First Nations women.
Humour is a vital part of the Trickster tradition as it is often used as a mode of revelation and transformation; laughing at something both exposes it and lessens its power as well as eases the potential pain of cultural change. Humour here and elsewhere in the play relieves the tension caused by violent conflict; it allows the audience to laugh rather than mourn, and there is the sense that laughter is a more productive place than sorrow. A collage of cultural references, both Native and non-Native, accompany the unseen hockey game, underlining its role as a site of intercultural blending.
In writing for a Native and non-Native audience, Highway addresses those who both suffered from and were complicit in the longstanding systems of oppression. Filewod argues that it is tempting for non-Native audiences to kapuskaeing Native plays as representations of authentic Nativeness, especially when encountering the stark differences between their cultures. However, with Dry LipsHighway seems aware of these temptations and attempts to derail their possibilities; just as the Wailerettes recode the game of hockey for their own purposes in order to provide for a better fit for themselves, Highway employs the Trickster, Nanabush, to disrupt conventional Western play aesthetics.
Highway oubhta to disable the dramatic mechanisms that may lead white audiences to believe what they just saw is a self-contained, stable testament of True Nativeness that they dy understand, pack away, and leave in the theatre. By this, the audience feels their complicity.
The audience must feel discomfort while the characters of Pierre, Zachary, and Spooky look and point at them from the bleachers as if the xry is challenging the structures of society.
By conflating the revolutionary space of the hockey arena with the theatre auditorium, Highway sends his audiences away with the message that they are the people capable of revolution; of course, the reception of this revolutionary message depends on the constitution of the audience. Yet in stressing the parallel between hockey and theatre, Highway challenges all audiences to see the revolutionary potential of ougnta outside the comfortable space of the theatrical environment.
Through such identifications, Highway urges the audience to feel sympathetic towards both the women and the concept of social change. Through the hockey-art parallel, Highway seems to be saying that if First Nations people create socially conscious art and uncompromisingly bring it into the Western domain, they can produce something new. In fact, an unofficial requirement for women playing on the Kapuskaisng Wailerettes team is their biological status as mothers or mothers-to-be: In this respect, jove players amplify rather than diminish their femininity through the appropriation of hockey.
What marks them as Other, as different, is celebrated within the hockey arena. Susan Billingham argues that Dry Lips is replete with the destabilization of gender roles, hockey being the most obvious example. However, the fact that membership on the team is contingent on either being pregnant or having had children renders female empowerment dependent on female fertility and biology.
I wonder, though, if taking into consideration the potential parallel between theatre and hockey, we might also read the emphasis on female fertility in metaphorical terms.
Perhaps what Highway is suggesting here is not actual childbirth but rather the possibility of creation.
In other words, access to membership in the revolution depends on the ability to create or produce, not literal children but works of art, such as theatre. As with Trickster, then, change comes with the ability to disrupt and to create. Looking at the play, however, it is clear that wailing is linked to disruption of the colonial status quo, particularly in the ever-shifting, defamiliarizing figure of Nanabush.
The wailing, then, is an aural interruption that cannot be fixed; its origins are untraceable, unknowable. This moment of communal lps underlines the potential of wailing to express, or give voice to, the inexpressible.
Wailing is a wordless cry taken up by the community, and adopted by the female hockey players to mark their own participation in the disruption—a kind of concretizing of the abstract sound of wailing. The revolution on the ice makes its way into the male commentary by way of linguistic re- appropriation.
Highway does not translate the Cree for the benefit of the theatre audience. Rather, in refusing to make the language familiar to the non-Native audience, he argues for the strength and autonomy of First Nations culture and art, allowing those who speak Cree unique access to this brief section of the play. Important for any notion of cultural hybridity is that of code-switching.
As Gilbert explains, the theatre gives post-colonial writers a chance to interrupt the homogeneity of colonial speech with their own linguistic voices, creating a heterogeneous cultural space:.
Over the course of the play, hockey becomes equated with life and, moreover, a revival in the community. After the rape of Patsy Pegahmagahbow, an event traumatic to the characters as well as the audience given its violent nature and unapologetic staging, Pierre breaks down and cannot decide whether to find Dickie Bird or to continue searching for the lost puck. He expresses the difficulty of separating the drive for life from the drive for hockey: This conjunction of the two words suggests that, in the Wasaychigan Hill Indian Reserve, hockey has come to stand for a struggle for life, and not only the quality of life in their reserve, but also the life of their traditions and heritage.
In so doing, the playwright points to a potential solution to the seemingly inescapable cycle of trauma and violence. The fact that the two words — hockey, life — come together only after an apparent struggle stresses the importance of such struggle to cultural revisioning and revitalization. The arena thereby becomes a space that straddles both tradition and Western influence, a space claimed by tradition from such influence. However, as a testament to the difficulty of such a merger, Dickie Bird breaks down, caught between two opposing sacred symbols: The Wasaychigan Hill hockey rink is a space where post-contact influence and the pain of oppression are not denied.
Big Joey broadcasts over his approved radio station, and Zachary appears with a pie, suggesting that he also is moving forward with his plans for a bakery, first articulated at the beginning of the play; but neither of these initiatives have clear ends. The formerly stalled community projects are underway and hockey is being played, but the death of Simon and the rape of Patsy Pegahmagahbow complicate this harmony, hanging in the air as trauma.
“Voyeurism and Gendered Violence in Dry Lips Oughta Move to Kapuskasing” by Erica Parnis
As hockey works to heal the fictional Wasaychigan Hill Indian Reserve, contemporary First Nations theatre works to destroy the notion that First Nations people are incapable of decolonization from where they are today.
The audience, sharing the same conceptual space as the hockey arena, is encouraged to recognize that Dry Lips is a call for action— a cue, an arrow, and kapsukasing a victory. This is why Highway refuses kapuskaaing end the play with a clear resolution. There is community, but it is damaged. There is a sense of healing, but it is unfinished. Hera, a woman, is teaching Zachary how to speak his traditional language, but he is still making mistakes.
There is hockey, and league hockey never ends: There is the audience.