Kohkums from Kitweenook hit Broadway
- EFN Staff | December 14, 2016
The Kohkums from Kitweenook from the holiday fan favourite Rez Christmas hit the big time this year. No, they didn’t find the world’s biggest Wal-Mart. The feisty old ladies are actually taking over the 400 seat Broadway Theatre for the final four nights of their most successful tour season ever.
The Christmas Kohkoms were originally created by Curtis Peeteetuce in 2001 for the Circle of Voices program. It began a holiday tradition for the company with many of the actors returning to reprise their roles yearly for the Gordon Tootoosis Nikaniwin Theatre (GTNT). This year is their 14th installment and it included a tour around Saskatchewan to over a dozen communities as far south as Nekaneet and as far north as Buffalo Narrows.
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This tour is the last for creator Curtis Peeteetuce who ends his time at GTNT as Artistic Director in the New Year. And he loves the experience of the final run full of nostalgia. “One of the blessings of this particular production is having Mitchell Poundmaker back as the original Sihkos. Mitchell and I were both there back stage donning our dresses and our tights and our bras and wigs and our purses over fifteen years ago. It is really nice to come full circle and have Mitchell back with us. It is amazing I’m so blessed,” said Peeteetuce. “Another is having Cory and Dalton back. They have done this three years now and then Krystle Pederson returned who has been so involved in the Christmas series....having those four involved really brings back a lot of memories. We had a lot of fun on tour. That was another blessing and now we have the Broadway to look forward to.”
This time around, Zula, Claire Bear and Sihkos find themselves searching a mysterious new toy store for the perfect gifts for their great grandchildren. Hijinks ensue, insults are hurled and the ladies go on an adventure that teaches them a message that stokes the Christmas spirit. And laughter...lots of laughter.
“The best part of the show is the laughter and the fun. We have so much fun on stage and get to joke with each other,” said veteran actor Krystle Pederson who plays the trickster. “It is great to bring joy to the community. The tour has been fun. It was nice to go back home to Buffalo Narrows. The communities have been really welcoming.”
And the communities love the show. The inside jokes, pop culture references and the Cree language, music and culture all combine for a delightful experience. “We connect with the communities because we incorporate the Cree language. I love seeing the actors use the language. What our theatre does is give them back some sort of language retention,” added Peeteetuce. “And I love watching people give an honest sincere laugh from the belly. We hear that every time we do the show. That is a gift right there.”
Pederson agrees about the importance of the language in the play, and also the importance of the messages. “It feels good having so much Cree language in the show. It is nice to hear them laugh and get the jokes. It is also a challenge for us to make sure we get the Cree right,” said Pederson. “The play gets me in the spirit. It reminds me to be with my family and not make it so much about presents but more about the family. The Kohkums are all about being together and supporting each other and making each other laugh no matter what the situation is.”
Even though it is Peeteetuce’s last play as the Artistiic Director, don’t say goodbye to the Kohkoms quite yet. “I am outgoing artistic director so now the incoming director has some choices to make. I will always be here. I think our actors are always going to be here. We have over 25 alum performers who have done the Rez Christmas series,” said Peeteetuce of future shows. “And we are all here standing by so if GTNT and the new Artistic Director want a brand new Christmas show, hey, they know where to get a hold of me.”
The play runs at the Broadway December 14 to 17th. For tickets call 306-652-6556