Salt Baby: A comedic play about self-identity
- EFN Staff | January 27, 2017
Salt Baby is becoming one of the most talked about comedic plays across the country. The show is about an Indigenous woman who finds her identity and learns how to be comfortable in her skin.
Falen Johnson is the playwright of Salt Baby who started writing the story back in 2006 after she graduated college where she studied theatre. Yvette Nolan the artistic director of the Native Earth Performing Art Centre in Toronto helped turn Johnson’s piece into a semi-autobiographical theatre play.
“It’s based on my experiences of growing up on and off the reserve and not necessarily fitting in either of those worlds because I have pale skin and curly hair,” she says. “When I was on the reserve, people didn’t know that I was from there and when I went to the city people thought I was [non-Indigenous].”
The play also touches upon what it was like for Johnson dating non-Indigenous guys after she moved to Toronto from Six Nations in Southern Ontario. The title stemmed from a childhood nickname that Johnson received due to the color of her skin so she decided to reclaim the term and use it for the play that seems to resonate with people.
Heather O’Watch heard about all the excitement stirring around the play from her mother—whom she took along to the Globe Theatre in Regina. There were some moments where O’Watch and her mother both shed some tears.
“The show was phenomenal, it was so good!” says O’Watch, who is currently the First Nations University of Canada Student Association President. “It interested me because of the storyline. It hits me personally in a way as well.”
Dakota-Ray Hebert from Meadow Lake, SK played the role of Salt Baby – a role that she takes very seriously because it is important to her as a person not only as an artist. She says people will expect to see a laugh riot as well as a heartwarming show.
“A lot of people when they hear show that have to do with Indigenous issues or content, people have it in their heads that they’re going to see a serious somber show but there’s a lot of funny scenes. The comedy in it is gold.” she says. “You go through a lot of emotions when you watch this play and I think that’s why it’s doing so well across Canada.”
The way Johnson has written the play, you don’t even realize you’re learning until afterwards because of the humour in it.
“Laughter is the best medicine and there’s a lot of medicine in this play,” says Hebert. “It’s coming around at a very important time in Canada. Especially because we’re celebrating 150th Anniversary of Canada and through the Truth and Reconciliation (TRC) reports that came out. It’s a good time for the play to come out.”
The Globe Theatre is the biggest venue that Salt Baby has been showcased in. The play runs until February 5th.