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White Noise by late Taran Kootenhayoo premieres at Firehall Arts Centre

Taran Kootenyahoo tragically passed away at the end of 2020, after working on White Noise prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

A comedy about two families who have dinner together for the first time during Truth and Reconciliation Week, Taran Kootenhayoo’s latest work, White Noise, debuts at the Firehall Arts centre this Tuesday (April 19).

Running to May 1, Kootenhayoo’s piece explores what it means to live in Canada from two different paradigms, and according to the arts centre, asks viewers to consider: How do we deal with internalized racism? Do we keep pushing it away and pretend to live safely in our day-to-day?

The work is presented in conjunction with Savage Society. Firehall Arts Centre’s artistic producer Donna Spencer said as soon as saw the workshop production of White Noise, she knew it would captivate audiences.

“While it has many entertaining comedic moments, it is powerfully thought-provoking, making us think about our role in reconciliation and our responsibility to gain a greater understanding of the Indigenous people and their history here on Turtle Island and in Canada. The Firehall is proud to be working in partnership with Savage Society on this premiere production and honouring Taran’s legacy,” she said.

Kootenyahoo passed away suddenly on New Year’s Eve in 2020, after writing the play White Noise prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Born in Cold Lake, Alb., he was a member of the Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation and moved to Vancouver when he was 18 to study acting at Capilano University.

“Savage Society had been working with Taran for about five years. We had been trying to help nurture his growth as an artist and support his artistic ambitions, and out of that work came White Noise which is a wonderful example of Taran’s imagination and artistry. We miss Taran dearly and this production will help us celebrate him and share his bright light with the wider community,” Savage Society’s Artistic Director Kevin Loring said.

Kootenyahoo’s sister, Cheyanna, also known as DJ Kookum, said Taran was like “water flowing between many different mediums and disciplines.”

“First and foremost, he was a storyteller, and all of his passions filled a big basket that he shared with us. He was an activist standing up for Indigenous rights, weaving his activism and art because he cared about the land and the people. He was an actor and had the gift of captivating an audience by understanding his body's movement and truth to the words he said; he was a poet and spoken word artist.

“Taran was cool in whatever he was involved in. He could steal the show, but he was always generous in his offerings as a person and performer. He just made things better,” she said.

When: April 19 to May 1.
Where: Firehall Arts Centre, 280 East Cordova St., Vancouver
Cost: $15-$35, tickets available online