Kenneth T. Williams is an award winning Cree playwright and filmmaker from the George Gordon First Nation. He is the first person of "Indigenous extraction" to earn an M.F.A in playwriting from the University of Alberta.*
If you live in Toronto you may have heard of or seen his show Thunderstick playing at The Free Gallery this month. Previous to his work reaching Toronto, however, Cree playwright Kenneth T. Williams has made himself known as the "Feral Playwright" on the Westcoast with works including Gordon Winter, Cafe Daughter and Three Little Birds. Williams has also released a number of works for young audiences including an adaptation of Are We There Yet, a play teaching adolescents about making sexual decisions.
I admit, I had never heard of Williams before his show premiered in Toronto. After reading Thunderstick and being moved by the unusual relationship between Jacob and Issac, I decided to share his name with all of you and hopefully inspire you to explore his work. Upon reading the piece, I was struck by the motif of imprisonment. William's characters are confined by their upbringing. Their struggles with paternal figures growing up have restricted them in adulthood and Williams uses images of deduction such as a jail cell or Jacob's first line "I am a paramecium" to explore the ways in which these characters face their restrictions.
Furthermore, Williams is funny. His work has a gentle poetry to it but, all in all, his characters are really funny.
If you haven't heard of him before, join us next week at The Free Gallery for Thunderstick (Closing Feb. 2). You can also find most of his works published. Williams also has Deserters opening in April as a Native Earth Performing Arts production.
For a wonderful Globe and Mail article on Williams:
*http://www.nativeearth.ca/ne/kenneth-t-williams-artist-profile/ (Jan 24, 2013)