Timescape: History Plays and Isolation
hopes resolved. Then Beaupré’s death would cast him, in 1980, in the role of Atwood’s
Canadian Hero whose death was tragic and senseless.
The stories of both Beaupré and Sukanen share some similar features.
Historically, both men’s remains are returned “home” long after they die: Beaupré to rest
in his home landscape of Willow Bunch and Sukanen to lie beside his ship at the
museum. Dramatically, both Sukanen-based plays fall more to the History play side of
the scale. The central character’s exploits and endeavours are highlighted over his
dreams, motivations, and emotional self. Sapergia and Ursell’s Giant Who Wept is a play
that deals with an epic character, in size and story. The explorations of Beaupré’s heroic
feats and his larger-than-life story makes The Giant Who Wept a History play. But the
focus on Beaupré’s personal and emotional reactions to events in his life is a nod towards
the history play.
Another character from Saskatchewan’s History is examined in a more personal
light in Rex Deverell’s And Did the Dog See This? (20:00).41
The play told the story of
Piapot (1816-1908) as part of Arts à la Carte's Festival '80.
Piapot was a Cree who
grew up among the Sioux and eventually became Chief of (what is now called) the Piapot
First Nation. After signing Treaty No.4 in Manitoba, illness and starvation on his Indian
Head (SK) reserve led to his negotiating a move to the Qu'Appelle Valley in 1884.
Piapot did not participate in the 1885 Riel uprising, but later ran afoul of territorial
41 Rex Deverell (b. 1941 Toronto) Globe Theatre, holds the Canadian record for longest run as a playwright in residence, 1975-90) Plays: including: The Copetown City Kite Crisis 1973; Boiler Room Suite 1977 (Canadian Authors Award 1978); Black Powder 1981 (music by Geoffrey Ursell); Righteousness 1983; Beyond Batoche 1985; and The Afternoon of the Big Game 1988 (Canadian Theatre Encyclopaedia). 42 Piapot (1816-1908) A brief biography of Piapot, related treaties, and more can be found at: <http://cap.ic.gc.ca/sk/piapot/history.html>