Indigenous storytellers will spin the Kwantlen First Nation tale of the basket ogress Th’owxiya in a piece of children’s theatre coming to Chilliwack.
Th’owxiya: The Hungry Feast Dish, presented by Axis Theatre, will be at the Chilliwack Cultural Centre on Nov. 12.
The legend of Th’owxiya is about an old hungry spirit that catches a young mouse stealing from her. This tale weaves traditional Coast Salish and Stó:lō music, dance, and masks together to create an unforgettable adventure.
Th’owxiya inhabits a feast dish filled with the most tempting foods from around the world, a temptation to anyone that crosses her. When Kw’at’el, a hungry mouse, takes a piece of cheese from Th’owxiya, they are caught. To appease the ogress, Kw’at’el must bring two children for her to eat before the second moon rises or Th’owxiya will eat Kw’at’el’s whole family. With the help of Spa:th (Bear), Sqeweqs (Raven), and Sasq’ets (Sasquatch), Kw’at’el embarks on a journey to earn Th’owxiya’s forgiveness.
“The characters in this play are ones that I use throughout my work,” said author Joseph Dandurand. “I constantly use spiritual beings. I write a lot about the raven and the wolf but also about being a fisherman. The river and the fish are very prevalent in my work. I think the fact that I live on an island has a lot to do with that. The use of characters has many elements. I believe that children will learn from this story to welcome animal spirits into their everyday lives.”
The history of Th’owxiya for the Kwantlen people is deep. She is a mythological being that has been used to teach children to listen and to not venture off alone or else she may take them. Although she is scary, she also has the power to bring good fortune to anyone who has seen her. Th’owxiya: The Hungry Feast Dish brings those lessons forward, teaching people about being responsible for their own mistakes, forgiving those mistakes, and finding the courage to stand up for what’s right.
“I was an intern in a pilot program for aboriginals to study museology at the new Museum of Civilization 30 years ago,” Dandurand said. “My internship included working with the in-house interpretative theatre company. I would spend days in the grand hall, where I first met the feast dish Th’owxiya.
“For me, this story shows the beginnings of a playwright. This story took a life of its own as I began to explore the many spirits and characters that come from our people. This story is a gift that will carry on for generations to come.”
Th’owxiya: The Hungry Feast Dish is coming to the Chilliwack Cultural Centre on Nov. 12 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $12, and can be purchased at the Centre Box Office, online at chilliwackculturalcentre.ca, or by calling 604-391-SHOW(7469).