By Chris Craddock and Debajehmuhjig Theatre Group
When we were touring to Native populations we wondered how richer the experience could be if it could be tailored to the Native experience. A draft of The Day Billy Lived was developed with The Debajehmuhjig Theatre Group of Manatoulin Island. Their ensemble worked the script with their elders and mental health professionals. With their help we created a script that spoke to Native youth in their own idiom.
The ensemble play a variety of roles surrounding the main characters of “Billy” and “Will”, the former a 16 year old trying to die, the latter a metaphysical civil servant, charged with talking him out of it. The play involves many scenes that reveal Billy’s importance to those around him, and the untapped potential his young life contains.
This production was a great success. As usual we sought funding to offer the play free of charge to under-funded schools and Social Service groups. The play was well received by all these groups, and the post performance discussions were heartbreakingly powerful.