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Gals weave a story

Adam Johnson
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (May 19/06) - Racism, genocide, storytelling, songs, dance, comedy ... and vaudeville?

It's quite the mixed bag, but Toronto's Turtle Gals will bring all of these elements to the Northern Arts and Cultural Centre this weekend in "The Scrubbing Project."

The Project is a stage show that deals with "internalized racism and genocide," according to Gals co-founder Michelle St. John. Their official bio said they "effectively juxtapose grief with the hilarity and absurdities of being three mixed-blood Native women at the turn of 21st century."

"It's a bit of a rollercoaster for us and the audience," St. John said of the play's content.

The storyline follows three characters as they search for their inner "winged warriors," using improvisation and vaudevillian timing.

St. John calls the Gals' technique "story-weaving," a non-linear path to telling a story, which originated with the Joseph Chaikin and the Open Theater in New York.

"It's about working out what a character wants and needs on your feet, and then writing it down," she said.

The use of vaudeville came from this technique, she said. "It's usually best not to question and go with the flow."

The concept of the show itself - "scrubbing" - came up when the three theatre veterans met in 1999 on the set of the made-for-TV movie "Conspiracy of Silence." St. John said it represents each member's struggle with their mixed identities.

"It's wanting to scrub off your colour to look white - to fit in," she said.

After a national tour, and with plans for a CBC radio drama in the works, St. John said she and the Gals were ready to give it their all onstage, during a high-energy and physical 90 minutes.

"By the end, we'll be totally exhausted," she said.

"The Scrubbing Project" plays tonight and tomorrow at 8 p.m. at NACC.