High Performance Rodeo piece Tlakentli an often riveting multimedia fantasy dealing with Indigenous issues

Caroline Russell-King offers her Postcard Review of High Performance Rodeo production Tlakentli.

Show: Tlakentli.

Playwright/composer: A collaboration between Carolos Rivera, Leticia Veram, and Hugo Monroy Nájera.

Theatre: Making Treaty 7 presents Ondinnok Productions in the High Performance Rodeo at The Grand Theatre.

Length: One act (65 mins., no intermission).

Genre(s): Drama/fantasy told through movement, dance, projections, a little dialogue in five languages, and underscored with live percussion.

Premise: Spanning time and space, two characters illustrate the transformation of Indigenous peoples in Mexico from evolution to revolution and beyond.

Why this play? Why now?: Issues around Indigenous peoples, land, resources, and relationships are as topical today as they were centuries ago.

Curiosities: I found I had many questions with this performance. I wondered how the show is viewed by different lenses of cultural perspective. I wondered if I hadn’t stayed for the post show  Q&A would I have understood all the intentions of the piece? 

Notable moment: I enjoyed the lighter moment when the immigrant children delight in snow.

Notable writing: Sadly, I am unilingual and was not privy to about 20 per cent of the spoken text and voiceover.

Notable performance: Rivera and Vera are riveting in synchronized story painting — creating a moving abstract painting of sorts.

Notable design: Providing a startling original composition, Nájera underscores the piece beautifully with guitar and percussion. 

Notable direction: Vera is the director and co-choreographer and specializes in dramaturgy of the body and movement, choreographic creation, and contemporary performance.

One reason to see this show: Indigenous theatre has been noticeably absent on the Canadian stage and Making Treaty 7 seeks to rectify this. I suggest you go (and if you have asthma or a sensitivity to smoke, take your inhaler).

Tlakentli runs Friday, Jan. 24 and Saturday, Jan. 25 at 7:30 p.m. in the Flanagan Theatre at The Grand as part of the High Performance Rodeo. Tickets are available from

Caroline Russell-King is a playwright, dramaturg, and instructor. She is a member of The Playwrights Guild of Canada, the Dramatist Guild of America and the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. You can find her work here at