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Children’s tale of Th’owxiya takes Vernon stage

Story of the Hungry Feast Dish geared towards kids ages 5-15
Th’owxiya - The Hungry Feast Dish takes the Vernon Performing Arts Centre stage Nov. 6. (Contributed)

When you take something from the earth, you must always give something back. That is the theme of Kwantlen First Nations story of Th’owxiya, (Tho-WOX-eeya), an ancient ogress with a taste for… children!

Axis Theatre’s award-winning Th’owxiya - The Hungry Feast Dish comes to the Vernon & District Performing Arts Centre (VDPAC) Sunday, Nov. 6, at 2 p.m. Recommended for ages five to 15, the production is the first performance of the 2022-23 SPOTLIGHT Kids Series.

From the Kwantlen First Nation village of Squa’lets comes the tale of Th’owxiya, an old and powerful spirit who inhabits a feast dish of delicious foods from around the world. But even surrounded by this delicious food, Th’owxiya herself craves only the taste of children. When she catches a hungry mouse named Kw’at’el stealing a piece of cheese from her dish, she threatens to devour Kw’at’el’s whole family, unless he can bring Th’owxiya two child spirits.

Ignorant but desperate, Kw’at’el sets out on an epic journey to fulfill the spirit’s demands. With the help of Raven (Sqeweqs), Bear (Spa:th), and Sasquatch (Sasq’ets), Kw’at’el must trick a hungry spirit and save their family from becoming the feast.

Shades of Grimm’s fairy tales combined with the northwest First Nations’ stories about the Wild Woman of the Woods give Th’owxiya a somewhat menacing persona, but this is balanced by the lightness and humour that keeps the show from being too scary for little theatregoers.

“Like the best fables, Th’owxiya conveys valuable lessons,” said VDPAC artistic director Erin Kennedy. “It tells us about the importance of not taking too much from the earth, the power of forgiveness, and how to find the courage to stand up for what’s right.”

Th’owxiya - The Hungry Feast Dish was written by Kwantlen First Nation poet and playwright Joseph A. Dandurand. It was 25 years in the making; the idea sparked while Dandurand was an intern at the Canadian Museum of Civilization and encountered feast dishes in the collection.

Directed by Axis Theatre’s artistic director Chris McGregor, (past SPOTLIGHT Kids Series shows: Somebody Loves you, Mr. Hatch and The Troll Grandfather), Th’owxiya - The Hungry Feast Dish includes a cast of six indigenous and Métis artists who embody their animal characters through creative movement and stunning Coast Salish and Sto:lo masks. This children’s theatre production won the 2020 Jessie Richardson Award for Outstanding Production – Theatre for Young Audiences and was nominated for Outstanding Design in recognition of multi-media artist Jay Haven’s vibrant set and costume designs.

Geared to young audiences, Axis Theatre’s productions are performed in theatres and schools, enriching curriculum by drawing children into stories and giving them access to ideas in new ways. Axis Theatre actively pursues a multi-disciplinary style of presentation. It is deceptively simple, completely fresh and memorable. With over 40 years of history, Axis’ 57 original works have earned 17 Jessie Richardson Awards, A Betty Mitchell Award and a Drama Desk Nomination for Unique Theatrical Experience.

For more info, including tickets ($12) visit or call 250-549-SHOW (7469).

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Jennifer Smith

About the Author: Jennifer Smith

Vernon has always been my home, and I've been working at The Morning Star since 2004.
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