A play based on the true story of six boys and a riot at Edmonton Indian Residential School is coming to Prince George on its tour of northern B.C.
Called Bunk #7 the play tells the story of the six boys and how when their favourite English Supervisor is suddenly fired, a perfect storm ignites, causing the boys to rise up and revolt against conditions and incidents at the institution.
Its central image is cultural resilience - the capability of a cultural system to absorb adversity, deal with change and continue to develop.
Directed by Marianne Brorup Weston, the play is over 20 years in the making, and was written by the late Larry Guno based on his personal experiences at Edmonton Indian Residential School in St. Albert, Alberta in the early 60s.
Guno went on to become a lawyer, playwright and political figure in British Columbia. He was a member of the Nisga’a nation Atlin in the Legislative Assembly of B.C. from 1986 to 1991 as an NDP Party member.
Weston promised Guno that she would bring the paly to the Nisga’a nation, but Guno died before the play was slated for national premier Toronto’s Native Earth Performing Arts festival in 2006.
“It has taken me 15 years to find the courage to fulfill my promise to Larry. We made many attempts over the years. One day in October 2019, I knew with certainty the time had come - just do it.,” explained Weston in her director’s note.
“Suddenly COVID hit us, halfway through rehearsals, and we paused for another 18 months. Finally, in November 2021, we presented the ‘work-in-progress’ presentations of Bunk #7 in Terrace, BC.”
She said after the initial reviews it was clear they needed to take Bunk #7 on the road and share Guno’s heartwarming story of Indigenous resilience to a wider audience.
The play is being produced by the Raven Collective which promoted youth development and professional Indigenous theatre in northwest B.C.
The story of how Bunk #7 came to be was also turned into a half-an-hour documentary directed by Haida filmmaker Patrick Shannon of Innovative.
It gives audiences a look behind the scenes of the lay and the people involved in bringing this powerful story to life.
Bunk #7 will now be performed at the Prince George Playhouse (2626 Recplace Drive) on Saturday, Nov. 5 at 7 p.m. and tickets are $20 and available at Books and Company (1685 Third Avenue).
There is an audience advisory as the play will be discussing sensitive material and include coarse language however, IRS support will be on site.
You can find out more about the play on the Bunk #7 official website.