Outdoor theatre featuring live horses retells historic meeting in Saskatchewan

The outdoor theatrical scene at the RCMP Heritage Centre is complete with teepees, props, and even horses.

Spirit of the Trails retells the true story of a historic meeting in 1877 between the Northwest Mounted Police (NWMP) and the Chief of the Lakota Sioux.

“It’s really entertaining. There’s a lot of action. There’s comedy… drama, little bit of everything for everyone,” actor Arron Naytowhow said.

“It’s a good opportunity to learn about the history of the region.”

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The play delves back into the 1800s, explaining the alliance and meeting of Major James Walsh of the NWMP and Sitting Bull, War chief of the Lakota Sioux.

While riding horses, characters re-enacted the scene following the Battle at Little Big Horn River, and the defeat of Colonel Custer.

Despite the high expenses related to the use of the horses, playwright Ken Mitchell said it was a necessary cost.

“Horses are so expensive, but I thought no we have to do this. We need the horses involved to demonstrate what is going on in the show,” Mitchell explained.

According to the playwright, the four-legged animals helped demonstrate what life was like over a century ago.

It also showed how both First Nations Sioux and North West Mounted Police traveled.

“It’s about the relationship about the RCMP at the time and the Sioux people at the time,” Naytowhow said.

Naytowhow explained it was a challenge for many of the actors, some of whom had never ridden a horse before.

“In theatre, there’s two things you don’t work with: children and live animals,” he laughed.

TJ Bews, trainer and owner of the horses has been involved in the theatre industry for over 20 years. He said the draw for many people is simply the rare appearances of live props.

“You don’t hardly ever see, other than television or in film, where you have live props like horses or any other dogs or animals,” Bews said.

“It’s one more aspect of the play.”

The theatre has two showings every Saturday and Sunday until the end of July.

Follow @ChristaDao

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