Evaluate: Prophecy Fog at Coal Mine Theatre feels essential at this second in time

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Jani Lauzon in Prophecy Fog at Coal Mine in November, 2023.DAHLIA KATZ/Coal Mine Theatre

  • Title: Prophecy Fog
  • Penned by: Jani Lauzon
  • Director: Franco Boni
  • Actors: Jani Lauzon
  • Enterprise: Coal Mine Theatre
  • Venue: 2076 Danforth Ave
  • Town: Toronto
  • Yr: To Dec. 12, 2023

What comes about to sacred lands when they are disconnected from their caretakers is at the heart of Jani Lauzon’s autobiographical solo demonstrate Prophecy Fog at Coal Mine Theatre. Lauzon tells stories from her daily life as a female with rocks in her pockets to her journeys to Big Rock in the Mojave Desert, a sacred area for lots of Initial Nations. However, Big Rock has also been co-opted by UFO believers and conventioneers, and defaced by graffiti lovers of various ability concentrations and political agendas. Have xenophobic slogans and UFO t-shirt gross sales ruined this place for good?

As the exhibit opens, Lauzon shares that elders taught her that rocks are the pores and skin of the Earth, and that they hold tales if you’re open to listening to them. She exhibits the rocks she’s collected more than the several years. Some glimpse like mismatched socks a different, like Elvis Presley. One particular is from the Mojave, where a quartz hill is sporting away as filth bikers obtain to practise their techniques. All have importance to Lauzon and feel extra akin to castmates than props. It’s a mild-hearted and mild established-up for deep existential questioning.

When the Mojave Desert was settled (or far more properly, occupied), the Indigenous men and women who cared for and collected at Large Rock – a huge boulder many storeys large – have been dispossessed. The new “owners” of the land understood it was a site of profound spiritual significance for the Indigenous individuals and permitted them to return for regular monthly ceremonies.

Lauzon clarifies how the settlers misunderstood these ceremonies, and then passed on their confusions to fellow settlers, which at some point led to the supposed Hopi prophecy of the Rainbow Warriors who will arrive to save the Earth. The tale was neither Hopi in origin nor associated to Big Rock, but it’s even now regularly misattributed in pop society. It is a form of prophecy fog, an accidental new mythology, constructed on the backs of Indigenous individuals and separated from their land and customs. Lauzon endeavours to obvious the haze with humour and grace, admitting that even she is not immune to misinformation.

She tells tales of her time expended with Indigenous elders, from whom she learned far more precise versions of origin stories. She also recounts the history of the settlers who lived at Giant Rock – most notably George Van Tassel, who purported to pay a visit to with aliens there. As Lauzon reconciles the conflicting and, at moments, darkly humorous heritage of the web page, she generously finds glimmers of a by line that join the disparate tales devoid of alienating (pun intended) everyone.

The means to explain to elaborate tales and unpleasant truths and even now locate commonalities in between individuals is refreshing in the ever-escalating society of polarization we stay in. That it all holds alongside one another is a testomony to Lauzon’s formidable storytelling skills.

Director Franco Boni and environmental designer Melissa Joakim generate an ethereal atmosphere exactly where origin tales, cosmology and archeology co-exist. It is an personal place with a permeable fourth wall, Lauzon sometimes urging the audience to consider wherever their beliefs appear from.

When Prophecy Fog premiered in 2019, it was met with essential achievement. In 2023, it’s each individual little bit as pleasant – and, at this minute, feels important: Lauzon invitations us to take into account what we take into account sacred, no matter if Huge Rock, ourselves, the ground beneath our feet or a random stranger on the subway.