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'Cottagers and Indians' by Drew Hayden Taylor

Presented by the Atlantic Repertory Company and Saint John Theatre Company

Presented by the Atlantic Repertory Company and Saint John Theatre Company

Aaron Kropf

“Saint John audiences shouldn’t miss their chance to see Drew Hayden Taylors’ Cottagers and Indians presented by the Atlantic Repertory Company at the BMO Studio Theatre.”

Billed on the Saint John Theatre Company website, 'Cottagers and Indians's is the story of: "the cultivation of wild rice that incites a fierce dispute between a native farmer and a white cottager, which escalates into a symbol of reconciliation. Through an endearing and amusing narrative, this story tackles important themes of community, respect, and ownership. 'Cottagers & Indians' is a timely tale that culminates in a legendary food fight."

Arthur Cooper (James Dallas Smith) is that very native farmer determined to bring manoomin back to the lake in the heart of cottage county. It is an area that has become overrun by seasonal interlopers from the big city believing they must protect the waters for their recreational needs. Maureen Poole (Martha Irving), leader of the cottagers, is determined to keep the lake a haven of peace and relaxation, free from wild rice. Often throughout Cottagers and Indians humour is used to punctuate either side of the debate.

The production is solidly directed by Samantha Wilson. She understands the importance of Taylor’s use of humour to punctate either side of the debate. James Dallas Smith and Martha Irving are strong actors who amply incorporate humour to punctuate their side of the debate while pushing the other to come and accept what each is trying achieve. They bring to life two extremely determined, charming, well developed yet flawed characters trying to recover from the anguish of loss while feeling like they have to do more for their departed loved ones.

Drew Murdock creates a tranquil setting for Cottagers and Indians. He transforms the BMO Studio Theatre into Ontario’s cottage country with a deck to one side of the stage festooned with an BBQ and Muskoka chair. A dock stretches across the waters of the lake, the central character of the story. To the other side is a canoe surrounded by a few stalks of manoomin (wild rice). Behind the lake are a series of abstract trees completing the serene setting.

In a crisp, snappy and entertaining 90 minute piece of theatre, the Atlantic Repertory Company and Saint John Theatre Company present a thought provoking story ripped from the headlines. It is one not to be missed.

The show continues to February 25 at the BMO Studio Theatre, 112 Princess Street, Saint John, New Brunswick. For tickets call (506) 652-7582 or visit to purchase online.

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