Paddle Song

November 9-21, 2021

**Tonight’s November 11th performance of Paddle Song has been CANCELLED. We apologize for the inconvenience.**

The Firehall Arts Centre is thrilled to present Paddle Song from Tuesday, November 9 to Sunday, November 21, 2021.

Paddle Song tells the story of Mohawk poet, Pauline Johnson, in this energetic and humorous one-woman musical starring Cheri Maracle, and created by Dinah Christie and Tom Hill. Nominated for Best Solo Performance at The High Performance Rodeo: Calgary’s International Festival of the Arts (2016), Paddle Song has also been presented in New Delhi and in Norway at the Riddu Riđđu Festival.

Pauline Johnson was a trailblazing heroine, an enigmatic, ahead of her time, proud Mohawk poet and performer of the late 1800s. The daughter of a respected Six Nations Mohawk Chief and an English mother, Pauline embraced her heritage and fiercely challenged the stereotypes of women and Native peoples within her work. She fearlessly toured for over 30 years across Canada, the U.S., and Great Britain during the late 1800s, and was published and hailed by the literati in England at a time when the literary world was ruled by white men.

Her powerful story is brought to life in Paddle Song, which captures the heart and journey of young Pauline, canoeing the Grand River at home on Chiefswood, her promising career just beginning, to earning her place on stages in Ontario, then Canada, the United States, and Great Britain. Pauline endlessly fought for equality, acceptance, and respect as an Indigenous female performer with a voice in a male-dominated literary world.

Paddle Song reflects the legacy Pauline Johnson carved out; an unparalleled mixed-blood persona who would influence Native Performers, and audiences, for decades to come. Her life’s work, a masterpiece accessible to all.

“My mother introduced me to Pauline Johnson when I was a young girl, and many of us have probably sung Paddle Song around the campfire,” says the Firehall’s Artistic Producer, Donna Spencer. “Cheri Maracle, who started her professional performance career here at the Firehall Arts Centre in our production of Marie Clement’s ‘Age of Iron’, is an amazing performer and her re-creation of the iconic life of Ms. Johnson is absolutely riveting.”

This production runs 75 minutes inclusive of a 15 minute intermission.

During the run of Paddle Song, poet/educator Lee Maracle, great, great, great granddaughter of Chief Capilano and her daughter, poet/theatre artist, Columpa Bobb will read from their poetry prior to and following 7:30 performances on  Nov. 10 ; Nov 11 & Nov. 18 and 3pm performances Nov 13,14, 20 & 21. 11/9/2020 Due to health concerns, the poetry readings prior to select performances has been CANCELLED. We apologize for the inconvenience and thank you for understanding.

A recording of this production will be available for viewing online at a later date.


Credits for Paddle Song:

Directed by:  Dinah Christie

Co-written by:  Dinah Christie & Tom Hill

Music by:  Tom Hill

Produced/Performed by:  Cheri Maracle