God's Lake: Powerful and empowering

Shayli Robinson / Showbill Canada

“We forgive, but we don’t forget. We’re taught not to hate.” – Ida Wood, member of the fly-in God’s Lake Narrows First Nation located in northern Manitoba.

Kevin Lee Burton, also a member of the nation, is a filmmaker associated with the National Film Board of Canada and co-created God’s Lake with Castlereigh Theatre Project’s co-artistic director Francesca Albright in Castlereigh’s signature style of documentary theatre. In an interview with Showbill, Burton revealed that the piece was originally focused on the murder of 15 year-old community member Leah Anderson, but through the dozens of interviews conducted for the project, it quickly became apparent it was more about how her disappearance and subsequent death affected the community.

Under the direction of Britt Small of Atomic Vaudeville, actors Nick Benz, Nyla Carpentier, Taran Kootenhayoo, and Erica Wilson skilfully portray 24 characters across different genders, ages, and community roles.

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God’s Lake tells the stories of missing and murdered Indigenous women

Sheila Martindale / Monday Magazine

God’s Lake is a collection of monologues, taken from interviews following the murder of a teenager in a small lakeside community in northern Manitoba. These pieces are spoken by four young people, who represent a wide variety of community members, and we never quite know who is who. But the words themselves are sincere.

To the rest of the country, this young woman (her name was Leah) is just one of the many missing and murdered Indigenous women about whom we have heard so much; but to family, close friends or mere acquaintances she was special and talented. And much missed.

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When murder came to God's Lake

Sarah Petrescu / Times Colonist

Victoria theatre figures, helped by Manitoba filmmaker, shine light on remote Cree life

Francesca Albright was scanning the news when she came across a story about an unsolved murder of a Cree girl in a remote Manitoba community.

“I’d never heard of God’s Lake or knew much about fly-in First Nations reserves or ice roads,” said Albright, co-founder of Castlereigh Theatre Project, a Victoria theatre company that produces documentary-like plays with dialogue from real interviews.

This week, the company will stage and workshop God’s Lake, a four-person play that explores the mysterious death of Leah Anderson in 2013 and addresses safety issues for young women and girls in remote Indigenous communities.

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God's Lake - Interview with Castlereigh Theatre Project by Shayli

Shayli Robinson / Showbill Canada

God’s Lake is an original piece of documentary theatre from Castlereigh Theatre Project that promises to make you feel, learn, and think critically. Co-created by filmmaker Kevin Lee Burton (a member of the Gods Lake Narrows First Nation) and playwright Francesca Albright (Castlereigh’s founder and co-artistic director) and directed by Britt Small of Atomic Vaudeville, the piece explores how Gods Lake Narrows was impacted by the mysterious death of a 15 year-old girl in their community. To get the whole story, we sat down with Kevin, Francesca, and Britt to talk about the show’s background and process.

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God's Lake: a preview

God’s Lake by Castlereigh Theatre Project January 4-6, 2018.
A preview.

Janis LaCouvee / janislacouvee.com

Anyone who follows my writing knows how difficult it is for me to select a list of top shows in the year. It’s the same thing for work that I am looking forward to in 2018.

However, I am making an exception for God’s Lake, produced by Castlereigh Theatre Project and appearing at the Metro Studio Theatre January 4-6 2018.  Due to its very nature — documentary theatre — and the topic — the safety of young Indigenous women and girls living on isolated First Nation reserves — this production will be riveting, and is worthy of any discerning theatre-goer’s attention.

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Castle in the Sky by Castlereigh Theatre Project April 23-29, 2016. A review.

Janis LaCouvee / janislacouvee.com

It’s the tenth anniversary year of a horrific triple murder of father, mother and son that rocked the small Alberta city of Medicine Hat—the accused the 12 year-old daughter J.R., and her 23 year-old boyfriend Jeremy Steinke. In the carefully constructed Castle in the Sky, writers Francesca Albright and Jude Thaddeus Allen, of Castlereigh Theatre Project, bring to light a town under extreme duress and in the national spotlight. Venturing to The Gas City in the year following the murder, they were granted unprecedented access to family and friends of the victims and the accused, as well as townspeople, politicians and media. From hundreds of hours of material, the researchers have culled and woven a mesmerizing docu-drama told with great detail, and—above all—compassion and restraint.

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Castle in the Sky - Charming Stranger Review

Caitlin Baird / The Marble

Castle in the Sky is an excellent example of verbatim theatre, meaning that the actual words of the community were carefully adapted for the stage. Over the year following the slayings, members of Castlereigh Theatre Project interviewed family and friends of the accused and the victims, journalists, and city residents. These intimate revelations are woven together in a rumination on grief, loyalty, and violence. Castle in the Sky is about a community in crisis in a case where blame is difficult to assign.

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