Huff (Solo) is the wrenching, yet darkly comic tale of Wind and his brothers, caught in a torrent of solvent abuse and at high risk of suicide. Wind’s fantastic dream world bleeds into his haunting reality, as he’s preyed on by the Trickster through the hallways at school, the abandoned motel he loves more than home, and his own fragile psyche. Ancestral history combines with harsh reality and gas-induced hallucination in a tale of family, love, despair, and the possibility of redemption.
I’ve been touring this show for a few years now. I did this interview with a French journalist who asked if in writing huff I had any “denunciations.” Not a word you hear every day. But the ESL-style question is a pretty succinct one. The answer is yes. I don’t have anything to say. I don’t know how the world is supposed to work. I don’t have any ideas. Give me the floor for an hour and I’ll shit in a beer bottle. I did have denunciations. We have disparaging rates of youth suicide. Sexual abuse is a dark part of our national history. First Nation’s people are still fighting to reclaim parts of our culture that were stolen in genocide. Huff is a punk show. It’s a fuck you to a society that would put our little brothers and sisters’ backs against the wall. I wanted to throw a brick.
I was singing in a punk band. I was inspired by Jackass the TV show—hurt myself to make my friends laugh. I was obsessed with telling stories about outsiders, people who do weird stuff to make a connection. I thought our most taboo subculture was First Nation’s kids abusing solvents, at high risk of suicide. I wrote a short story.
I carried the story for four years and made a few attempts at writing a play. I didn’t have much success until Patti Shaughnessy booked it for the Ode’min Giizis festival in Peterborough.
That gave me a year to write and create a new solo play. Jovanni was going to dramaturge again but I wasn’t ever ready to show him anything. Opening night was approaching and we didn’t have time to get into our old rhythms of notes and drafts. Most of the dramaturgy happened in rehearsals at the Centre for Indigenous Theatre by Karin Randoja. That being said, I owe a debt to the creativity of Mason Wales, David Geary, Elizabeth Kantor, and especially Karin, whose directorial vision was the basis for the two proceeding productions and tours.
When I perform the show I think about the kids in the story: little shit -disturbers with fierce imaginations. I want to do a play that they would love. That’s why there’s so much cussing. That’s why I splash the audience with tomatoes. That’s why I don’t care what people think about it.