Agokwe celebrates two-spirited First Nations

By Abby Wiseman [coordinating editor]

Courtesy of Brandon Gaukel

Nanabush, the trickster in many First Nation’s storytelling, threads together the tale of two young men battling with their sexuality, while giving context to the influence of Western influence on the changing attitudes towards homosexuality in the one-man play Agokwe.

The play, which ran from Jan. 17 to Jan. 22 at the Cultch theatre, follows Jake, a shy, young, gay First Nation’s man, and Mike, a sought after hockey player who masks his homosexuality with bravado. The two locked eyes at a Warehouse One Jeans store at the Kenora Shopping Mall, but have never met because they live on different reserves and hide their sexuality.

The All Nations hockey tournament in Kenora is a perfect opportunity for the two to meet up, but due to fear of being found out, a rendez-vous is hard for Jake to orchestrate. With help from the tricky Nanabush the two find a way to reveal their feelings.

Agokwe (pronounced “agoo-kway), flows between six characters, including a promiscuous young woman, Goose; to an insecure hockey player battling with his sexuality, Mike; to Nanabush, the trickster in First Nations story-telling; to Betty, Mike’s mother who battles alcoholism, all acted by Waataate Fobister, who created the play.
The play’s backbone is in the complex characters, which make up for the sometimes rocky transitions.

More important though, is the educating by the character Nanabush, of the First Nation’s traditional view of homosexual or two-spirited people. Nanabush reveals that two-spirited, or Agokwe, people were accepted and revered in First Nation society, but as traditional culture slips away, so does the esteemed opinion of homosexuals.

Though rough in some parts, Agokwe is a thought provoking play that gives insight into the lives of First Nations and the loss of traditional culture.

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