SPIRIT OF THE NARROWS by Anne Lederman
Small World Music Centre, 180 Shaw St., Suite 101
Vivid, layered, intimate and, at points, mystical. . .The musicians she meets and the complexity and pathos of their experiences as individuals and as First Nations people are beautifully brought to life. The two actors navigate time, space, clashes of identity, culture and musical tradition into one skillfully woven performance. Allison Jones, The ViewCreated and written by Anne Lederman, and performed by Anne and Capucine Onn, Spirit of the Narrows is the story of one woman’s journey into the world of Aboriginal fiddling. As a young musician, Anne became fascinated with the unusual sound of Métis and First Nations fiddling in her home province of Manitoba. In the mid 1980s, she set out to learn more about it. Whom did she meet but fiddlers like Carl Grexton, Emile Spence, Laurence Flett, Grandy Fagnan, Teddy Boy Houle and a host of others, some of whom didn’t quite know what to make of this young woman with a fiddle under her arm. Entering a world very different from her own, the play is her journey—between present and past, between cultures, and between states of mind.
Through one woman’s eyes, Spirit of the Narrows is a story about a uniquely Canadian music and the people who created It. The music is like no other, embodying Indigenous, French, English, American and Eastern European traditions, all played on a small box with four strings. Spirit of the Narrows is alive with humour, insight and respect and is a tribute to the people and the music Anne came to know. Audiences come away from the show with the unique sounds of Aboriginal folk fiddling ringing in their ears, along with a new understanding of life on the Canadian prairies in the late 20thcentury. Like Anne, you won’t be quite the same on your return.