By Meghan Power
“To me, The Strid represents deep love for where we find ourselves and the ones closest to us,” says Kiana. “As a producer, I wanted to create a space where people could simply come as they are. I knew that the final presentation was going to be a variable, but if artists could feel empowered and valued at the end of the day, that was what I wanted. This project was a culmination of the writing I wanted to write, the diverse skill sets that came together over a shared story, imaginative collaboration, and intentional decision-making, for community well-being.”
The Strid is about a small rural town, its residents, and their relationship to a deadly river. When Rachel and Leon’s child, Eli, decides that he wants to take art classes, they extend a sympathetic hand to outcast and eccentric artist, Meena. After losing her child, and consequently, her partner, Meena finds refuge and healing in Eli’s company. A reimagining of English folklore and mystery, with racialized experiences at the centre, it is a play about class, rebirth, sharing, family, and community healing.
The Strid changed drastically, as a play, between the summer of 2020 and May 2021. Originally it was written to be performed in front of a live audience, but the pandemic forced Kiana to rethink the entire production, and how it would be experienced by audiences: “There were many moving parts that helped this one-act theatre show, originally intended for live presentation, transform into a multi-media production—part film, part audio-play, part zine.” Kiana credits the entire creative process with keeping her afloat during the pandemic and showing her what she is capable of as a playwright, producer, and artist. “I now know that I can manage thousands of dollars, lead a team of multi-disciplinary artists, and write a play.”
“This project reflects the vibrant, vast, and incredible talent of the racialized artists in Mohkinstsis and welcomes people from various practices to come together over a story of land, family, and how we look out for each other. When we invest our time, money, access, and effort into equity deserving communities, stunning relationships and innovative work happens.”
And even though the production of the play was forced to evolve due to the on-going pandemic, it was always intended as, and remained, a means for artists to feel valued in their medium, meet new people and get paid: “I feel like we did that, and a lot more,” says Kiana. “Without CADA’s funding, The Strid wouldn’t have been able to accomplish all of this.”