BRANTFORD – Previously premiering in Kitchener, Ont., the 90-minute theatrical presentation of Falen Johnson’s “Salt Baby” has once again graced the Woodland Cultural Centre with humour and identity on Halloween weekend.
Viewers were able to enjoy the main character named Salt Baby as she takes a personal quest into her identity, her history and her relationship as a mixed-blood indigenous person in today’s day and age. In an interview with the Woodland Cultural Centre, Johnson explains that her message behind her work is to “empower”.
“What I’d really like ‘Salt Baby’ to do is empower my audience to feel like they or we understand each other a little better,” said Johnson. “Canada has such a hidden history that is rarely taught in schools so we often walk through life not knowing and by the time we think to ask the hard questions it can feel too late, it can feel to uncomfortable.”
Johnson explains that she herself is a salt baby, which is a term jokingly used for indigenous children born of mixed heritage, and that she has dealt with racism.
“I am invisible as an Aboriginal person,” she said. “I’ve seen the disservice that the Canadian education system has done to its population. With Salt Baby I want to ask questions and open a dialogue. I also would like the audience, native and non, to walk away with an understanding that you can’t judge a book by its cover,” she said.
In an open review Dorianne Emmerton provided her opinion of Salt Baby via mooneyontheatre.com, writing that she “found it very moving”.
“While some of the ancillary characters were caricatures, Salt Baby’s boyfriend Al, her father, and the ghost of her grandfather are all sincere and likeable people with good senses of humour,” wrote Emmerton. “Salt Baby herself is a gigantic mess, but I found her very relatable. Even without racially-oriented identity crises, being a woman in your early twenties, on your own in the big city for the first time and trying to figure out what your life looks like — in my experience all of that can be very messy.”
Johnson said that even though there are blurred racial and cultural identity lines that are hard to pin down and even though the play is written from an indigenous perspective, her play is “for everyone.”