It’s coming a couple years later than expected, but Saskatchewan playwright Kenneth T. Williams’ new play The Herd is finally making its way to Persephone Theatre.
Originally scheduled to be part of the 2020-2021 season, the planned world premiere of The Herd at Persephone Theatre was cancelled as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Director Roxanne Dicke, who wasn’t attached to the original production, said she was “honoured” to now be involved with bringing the show to a Saskatoon stage.
“It’s a beautiful piece,” she said.
The play follows a Saskatchewan First Nation that must grapple with questions of science versus tradition as twin white bison calves are born into the First Nation’s herd — and national media excitement brings unprecedented attention to the community. An Indigenous scientist caring for the herd (played by Kathleen MacLean) must balance the weight of those two expectations as they deal with the historic bison birth.
“We have the world of science meeting the world of spirituality, and that’s a really interesting dynamic,” Dicke said.
Dicke lauded the writing of the script, from the incorporation of numerous culturally prescient themes to the myriad characters Williams included in the story.
While it may not be directly drawn from a true story, Dicke noted that elements of The Herd — from the excitement around white bison calves to the importance of reclaiming bison for some Indigenous communities — are not unheard of.
It’s that willingness to examine some of the more difficult topics in the public eye that helps make the show stand out for her.
“This is not going to be a superficial, just looking at one thing,” Dicke said. “A lot of issues that have been raised in our culture, in the public eye right now, in the community’s eye, are certainly present in the script.”
With The Herd finally set to make it’s long-awaited debut at Persephone Theatre, Dicke said she hopes the show will get the audience thinking and talking about some of the culturally relevant topics they see represented on stage.
“Depending on your vantage point when you come to see the show … I think there’s a chance at understanding, I think there’s a chance at a great conversation,” Dicke said.
The Herd runs at Persephone Theatre until Feb. 26, 2023. Tickets can be found online at persephonetheatre.org.