The Gift: A Story about TransformationA Surrounded by Owls Production
Tickets available at the door-cash only
$20/ $15 for Student and Seniors
“Hello, my name is John Aitken. I did not begin to speak until I was eighteen years old”
Everyone has a story. The Gift is one person’s journey through challenge and adversity in a boy’s early years. He is too young to understand the world he has been born into and has no voice to express the turmoil of his circumstances. For a boy without words, we use drumming, singing, movement and sound effects in a series of short scenes to evoke significant events in his life. As in a dream, Indigenous symbols and metaphor tell this tale of evolution and ultimate celebration. Some scenes will be easy to decipher and some may leave you perplexed. It is all part of the experience.
During the period when I did not speak, in order to communicate I used to point and use facial expressions. These two techniques have been integrated into the piece where possible to help demonstrate my vulnerability at such a young age. Although I did not speak, I did make what I now call “cave man” sounds. These are used in one humiliating scene with “bogey-woman” attempting to get me to speak. Each scene communicates to the audience key moments which would transform my life. The path to where I am now!
We share the human story, and John Aitken’s was buried in silence, the deepest language and retreat of traumatized children. In the margins of pain, John found his voice. That is his gift, and the profound and respectful silence that ends his telling in the drum beat and spirit dancing of his culture is ours. The Gift, told in the oldest language, transforms theatre into sacred ritual and man into cosmic reflection, all my relations. This is the highest function of art, a place of dialogue, songs without words, as we, actor and audience, have the conversation necessary to adjust the flaws in human nature that lead to personal and social dysfunction. Just as the Coast Salish people were bullied into silence, so was the actor who takes himself and his audience to the light in a profoundly moving performance in which the beings of our shared universe find redemption. Never has the proverb, “They thought they buried us but we were seeds,” had more relevance, as the shared experience of silence lifts us all.
Metro Studio Theatre
1411 Quadra Street,
Phone: (250) 383-2663