Coast Salish artist John Aitken’s The Gift is coming to the Sunset Theatre in Wells this weekend, Sept. 6 and 7. Photo submitted

John Aitken shares his Gift this weekend in Wells

The Gift is John Aitken’s personal journey through challenge and adversity in a boy’s early years

The fall season at the Sunset Theatre in Wells welcomes John Aitken and his profoundly personal play, The Gift.

“Hello, my name is John Aitken. I did not begin to speak until I was 18 years old.”

Everyone has a story, and The Gift is Aitken’s personal 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 he has no voice to express the turmoil of his circumstances.

“Told in the oldest language, The Gift transforms theatre into sacred ritual and man into cosmic reflection, all my relations,” says Aitken.

Join us this Friday and Saturday (Sept. 6 and 7) and celebrate this almost wordless story of transformation as we learn about Aitken’s childhood, adolescence, and how he eventually found his voice. Expressed through movement, drumming, singing, Indigenous symbol and metaphor, The Gift is a theatrical event that aims to encourage a better understanding of the trauma suffered by many First Nations people.

According to Aitken, “It is a difficult story to tell, but it is ultimately a story about overcoming adversity, a lot of violence, and dysfunction. I didn’t speak until I was 18, and here I am today at 48, speaking for 30 years … How do I fit into society? How do I fit in with my native community, and how do I fit in with non-native community too? With my activist hat on, I think this is what we need to do — all of us — working together to build a healthy relationship.”

Aitken’s story was brought to the stage in collaboration with Gail Noonan, a Mayne Island animator. After falling into casual conversation during a B.C. ferry crossing, Noonan was compelled by Aitken’s story, and together, they weaved a personal story of truth and healing. In The Gift, Aitken shares a series of short scenes inviting the audience to take a glimpse into his personal and vulnerable journey through movement and song, expressing the traumatic challenges of violence and dysfunction he overcame as a boy. Sharing the stage with Aitken is Shelley MacDonald, an award-winning performing artist, educator and filmmaker who is of Mi’kmaq “Ugpi’Ganjig” Eel River, New Brunswick and Scottish Ancestry.

Linda Rogers van Krugel, a poet and writer, had this to say about The Gift: “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. 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.”

To learn more information about The Gift, or to make ticket reservations, call 250-994-3400 or visit us online at The show starts at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and tickets are $15 each.

— Submitted by the Sunset Theatre

READ MORE: Wells’ Sunset Theatre unveils summer season lineup

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