20 . 11 . 19

An Unknowing Man in Headdress

The launch of our latest and FINAL (deep breath) production for 2019: Ħax-Xjuħ brings with it many  things but one thing in particular: A Headdress. You might think there’s nothing wrong with an actor wearing a headdress on stage because it’s a costume isn’t it? Something you’d buy from any costume shop no? Correction it is wrong, and the essay we’ve linked you to below.

Ħax-Xjuħ harks back to a time when people didn’t care to think about the meaning of cultural appropriation or know the real significance behind certain items of clothing. There was a lack of awareness and with that unawareness a bliss that isn’t commonly found today. The humor that surrounds that sort of unawareness is what pantomimes thrive on. Does that make it right? The straightforward answer is no; but is our show accurately portraying a time period we’re representing on stage? Absolutely. Let’s just make sure to do better and learn from the mistakes of our ancestors. Read up and wise up through the link below.

HEADDRESSES IN NATIVE CULTURES

For the most part, headdresses are restricted items.  In particular, the headdress worn by most non-natives imitate those worn by various Plains nations.  These headdresses are further restricted within the cultures to men who have done certain things to earn them.  It is very rare for women in Plains cultures to wear these headdresses, and their ability to do so is again quite restricted.

So unless you are a native male from a Plains nation who has earned a headdress, or you have been given permission to wear one (sort of like being presented with an honorary degree), then you will have a very difficult time making a case for how wearing one is anything other than disrespectful, now that you know these things. If you choose to be disrespectful, please do not be surprised when people are offended… regardless of why you think you are entitled to do this.

Even if you have ‘native friends’ or are part native yourself, individual choices to “not be offended” do not trump our collective rights as peoples to define our symbols.

An Open Letter to Non-Natives in Headdresses