CIVILIZED tells the story of how the Laurier government decided to solve the Indian problem and find ways to incorporate Indigenous people into British Canadian society. Indigenous people were seen by the Canadian government as barriers to a modern society and unfortunately one of the solutions became residential schools, in which Indigenous children were taken away from their parents and not taught their culture.
This is a great example of how to bring history to life — a great story with interesting characters and an actor who can deliver the weighty material. Keir Cutler’s script is interesting because these bureaucrats believed in their policies — it was acceptable to take Indigenous land and they actually thought they were doing good by teaching Indigenous children British Canadian culture. Actor John Huston delivers the material expertly. He is terrific portraying various pompous bureaucrats but adds sarcastic commentary about Indigenous people not appreciating everything the government is doing for them. CIVILIZED is one of the best plays I’ve seen at this year’s Fringe and is very timely given the cultural reckoning Canada is now undergoing. Go see it.