White Noise by the late Taran Kootenhayoo premieres at the Firehall Arts Center

Taran Kootenyahoo tragically passed away at the end of 2020, after working on White Noise before the COVID-19 pandemic.

A comedy about two families having dinner together for the first time during Truth and Reconciliation Week, the latest work by Taran Kootenhayoo, White noisedebuts at the Firehall Arts Center this Tuesday, April 19.

Running until May 1, Kootenhayoo’s play explores what it means to live in Canada from two different paradigms and, according to the arts center, asks viewers to reflect: How do we deal with internalized racism? Do we continue to push it away and pretend to live safe everyday?

The work is presented in collaboration with Savage Society. Firehall Arts Center Artistic Producer Donna Spencer said as soon as she saw the workshop production of White noiseshe knew it would captivate the audience.

“While it has many entertaining comedic moments, it is powerfully thought-provoking, making us reflect on our role in reconciliation and our responsibility to gain a better understanding of Indigenous peoples and their history here on the island of the Turtle and Canada. The Firehouse is proud to partner with Savage Society on this first production and honor Taran’s legacy,” she said.

Kootenyahoo died suddenly on New Year’s Eve in 2020, after writing the play White noise before the COVID-19 pandemic. Born in Cold Lake, AB, he was a member of the Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation and moved to Vancouver at age 18 to study theater at Capilano University.

“Savage Society had worked with Taran for about five years. We had tried to help nurture his growth as an artist and support his artistic ambitions, and from that work came White Noise, which is a wonderful example of Taran’s imagination and artistry. We miss Taran dearly and this production will help us celebrate him and share his shining light with the wider community,” said Savage Society Artistic Director Kevin Loring.

Kootenyahoo’s sister Cheyanna, also known as DJ Kookum, said Taran was like “water flowing between many different mediums and disciplines”.

“He was above all a storyteller, and all his passions filled a big basket that he shared with us. He was an activist who defended Indigenous rights, weaving together his activism and art because he cared about the land and the people. He was an actor and had a knack for captivating an audience by understanding the movement of his body and the truth of the words he spoke; he was a poet and spoken word artist.

“Taran was cool in everything he was involved in. He could steal the show, but he was always generous in his offerings as a person and a performer. He just made things better,” she said.

When: From April 19 to May 1.

Or: Firehall Arts Centre, 280 East Cordova Street, Vancouver

Cost: $15 to $35, tickets available online

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