Today, Roseneath Theatre‘s Spirit Horse opens at YPT. This powerful production is based on the Irish play ‘Tir Na N’Og’ by Greg Banks, but received a Native American adaptation by Drew Hayden Taylor. Recommended for ages eight and up, Spirit Horse follows the adventures of two Indigenous children whose family is caught between traditional ways and contemporary urban culture. As Drew Hayden Taylor says, stories must be shared as a way to explore and understand our world. Spirit Horse is a timely story, considering  current artistic responses to reconciliation in Canada – the most recent of which is the release this week of singer Gord Downie’s album, Secret Path.

Secret Path, image via CBC

(Gord Downie/Jeff Lemire) Image via

Downie’s work is inspired by 12-year-old Chanie Wenjack, who died while attempting to walk 400 miles to his home after running away from a residential school in northwestern Ontario in 1966. Now 50 years later, the same questions persist. These questions are important ones for all of us to ask and explore together, especially with the young people in our lives. Parents and teachers bringing their families or students to see Spirit Horse may find them to be particularly helpful in introducing the ideas of reconciliation.

  • What does it feel like to belong?
  • What is home?
  • What makes a family?
  • How do we pass down histories and traditions?
  • What is racism? How do ideas about race influence the way people think, act and relate to one another?
  • What are the best ways to respond when you notice racism or stereotyping?
  • How do traditional and contemporary cultures differ? How are they alike?

More discussion questions and exercises, both pre and post-show, can be found in our Spirit Horse Study Guide – a free resource for teachers, parents and artist educators. To see the full study guide, click here.