The Land Acknowledgement or As You Like It Review

An unexpected and thought provoking performance from Lakota actor and playwright Cliff Cardinal. Presented as part of LIFT Festival and taking place at Southbank Centre until 9th June 2024. 

This post may contain mature or challenging content.

The Land Acknowledgement or As You Like It Review

Walking into the Purcell room at Southbank Centre I wasn’t quite ready for what was about to unfold. 

The Land Acknowledgement or As You Like It, written and performed by Cliff Cardinal, deals with a somewhat unfamiliar topic for British audiences: Land Acknowledgements. A Land Acknowledgement is a formal statement before an event, that recognises the indigenous communities that originally inhabited the land. Cliff tells us that in Canada Land Acknowledgements can take place before sports events, public meetings and even theatre performances. He says that these addresses are often given by white Canadians but also by indigenous people too. He suggests that they are mostly performative and that on the whole they don’t help indigenous people. 

Cardinal’s style is provocative and he makes no attempt to make the audience feel comfortable. But why should he? A history of colonisation, genocide, displacement and grave inequality should make you feel uncomfortable. This is all the more pertinent considering the UK’s part in this hideous history. A hideous history that we seem to know nothing of. 

Unsurprisingly the audience’s response is split. Some snap approvingly ‘slam poetry style’ and laugh at funny moments (which there are actually many of) whilst others keep stony faced or leave the auditorium altogether. 

A key theme addressed during the performance is allyship and how an ‘allies’ actions can often make them feel better about themselves, rather than helping a marginalised group. Cardinal also addresses virtue signalling -  something that is ever present in our terminally online world. 

The context of the performance, Southbank Centre is also important, as those who are in the audience (apparently the Canadian High Commissioner and a rich man from Knightsbridge amongst others) need to see this show.

Part sardonic stand up act and part fearless ‘artivism’, Cliff Cardinal’s The Land Acknowledgement or As You Like It is like nothing else you’ve seen before. 

Header Image Credit: Dahlia Katz

Author

Maya Willcocks

Maya Willcocks Voice Reviewers

Hi my name is Maya Willcocks and I am an Actor, VO, Film and Theatre Producer based in London/Birmingham.

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