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Dead White Writer on the Floor

Dead White Writer on the Floor
Your Price: $17.95 CDN
Author: Drew Hayden Taylor
Publisher: Talonbooks
Format: Softcover
# of Pages: 112
Pub. Date: 2011
ISBN-10: 889226636
ISBN-13: 9780889226630

About the Play:

Dead White Writer on the Floor is a full-length comedy by Drew Hayden Taylor. The play uses two literary conventions – theatre of the absurd and mystery novels – to create one of the funniest and thought-provoking plays ever about identity politics. While the literary allusions to Pirandello and Agatha Christie are obvious, the side-splitting comedy is vintage Drew Hayden Taylor.

Dead White Writer on the Floor focuses on six familiar Indigenous stereotypes – all created by non- Indigenous writers – who wander across the stage pondering the point of their creation: Tonto (from the Lone Ranger radio and television series that began in 1933), Injun Joe (from Mark Twain's novel, Tom Sawyer), Billy Jack (from the 1971 movie of the same name), Old Lodgeskins (from the movie Little Big Man), Pocahontas (a two-dimensional cartoon), and Kills Many Enemies (a warrior created by Drew Hayden Taylor to represent all warrior types), whose lives have been created in literary form. They come to life and find themselves in a room with the dead white writer who created their adventures. They set out on a journey together to shed their literary personas to follow their dreams of taking their place in the real world.

In Act One, six "savages"; noble, innocent, ignorant, fearless, wise and gay, respectively; find themselves in a locked room with the body of a dead white writer, which they stash in a closet. None of them can figure out how he died or which of them might have killed him. They realize as they point fingers at each other, however, that they are all profoundly unhappy with their lives as they've been constructed over the past four hundred years: Old Lodge Skins wants to know what it feels like to be a young man; Billy Jack wonders what spreading healing rather than pain would feel like; Injun Joe is desperate for an education; Kills Many Enemies is exhausted by his deadly seriousness and yearns for a sense of humour; Pocahontas seeks to feel respected as a woman rather than lusted after as a child sex object; and Tonto wants to "come out of the canyon" and be the one wearing the mask for a change. Gradually, they figure out that the latest iteration of Gutenberg's invention buzzing like a beehive on the dead writer's desk is actually a dream-catcher, which they can use to rewrite their lives in the image of their own inner beings.

Imagine their surprise when they reappear in the same locked room in Act Two as Mike, Jim, Bill, John, Sally and Fred – attending an A.A. meeting and bickering among themselves about reserve politics, unmanageable family relationships and whether Bingo has a place in their new air-conditioned casino – and realize the white writer must still be very much alive in their community; his body in the closet is still warm!

Dead White Writer on the Floor premiered in 2010 at Magnus Theatre in Thunder Bay, Ontario.

Cast: 1 woman, 4 men

What people say:

"Abstract theatre is not generally associated with comedy … but judging by the laughter issuing from the packed house at Magnus' opening night of the show, it is also drop-dead hilarious." — The Argus

"Taylor is a writer and a humourist, and the play moves along nicely ... I especially liked the transformation of the characters from the old stereotypes in the first act, to the new modern stereotypes that the people created for themselves in the second act. The surprise that the Dead White Writer has somehow resurrected himself and can now be blamed for the unhappiness of the characters is not surprising." — Lake Superior News

About the Playwright:

Drew Hayden Taylor one of Canada's best known and most prolific Indigenous writers. An Ojibway born on Curve Lake First Nation near Peterborough, Ontario, he has worn many hats in his literary career, from performing stand-up comedy at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., to being Artistic Director of Canada's premiere Aboriginal theatre company, Native Earth Performing Arts. He has been an award-winning playwright (with productions of his work in Canada, the US, and Europe), a journalist/columnist (appearing regularly in several Canadian newspapers and magazines), short-story writer, novelist, television scriptwriter, and documentary filmmaker.

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