“Everyone has crushes; everyone falls in love,” says Waawaate Fobister of his play Agokwe: Gay Love on the Rez
. “It is very specific, but these characters have very human feelings, so everyone goes on the journey.”
was a hit in its two previous incarnations at Buddies, but Fobister is not just riding a wave of popularity; he believes in the messages. Very involved in the Idle No More movement, he notes that the environmental themes have always been present in Agokwe
. “Two-spirited artists have a very strong voice because they are unique,” he says. “People pay more attention. Idle No More is a grassroots movement, and I truly believe in it. We have our teaching in there as well. Two-spirits are instilled within native culture, embedded; we’re a part of it already.”
is not on a farewell tour, even though Fobister claims this is its “final” time in Toronto. From here, it will continue across Canada to the West Coast, with a jaunt to some small northern communities planned for next year. And there are international plans, as well. “We have a new set,” Fobister says. “The last one was too massive to tour with. It’s the same, just smaller.”
The evocative lights and soundscapes will still be there to help conjure the multiple characters to vivid life. “I know them now; I can just go to them,” Fobister says. “But it is exhausting; it takes hours to unwind after a show. But I always find something new, always go deeper. It’s kind of scary because I can’t go on automatic. What if I forget a line? Sometimes I need to rehearse just the lines because each line has a cue, a light or fog. The stage manager is always on my ass about my lines.”
Agokwe runs Wed, Feb 20–Sun, Feb 24 at the AKI Studio Theatre, 585 Dundas St E.