Beyond Belief

Beyond Belief | Theater | Missoula Independent

Julie Cajune wants to know if you can name 10 famous American Indian women. Sound too difficult? She thinks so, too.

So starts the first theater review I’ve written without a chance to see the show. A one-night, one-woman show based on Julie Cajune’s family stories and Jennifer Finley-Greene’s poetry, the story behind the show became as important as the production itself.

Julie Cajune
Julie Cajune rehearses a scene from her one-woman show, “Belief.” ©Brooks Johnson

“We all live through disappointment or times of great discouragement or grief that cause us to question beliefs,” Cajune says. “This is a universal story that doesn’t have cultural or gender boundaries. It’s just one way to deal with it. It’s not the way for everybody, but it’s my way.”

A rainy afternoon driving up to the Jocko Canyon in Arlee begot a friendly, concise interview. But because I couldn’t translate their grand ideas into something tangible for the audience, I narrated the process, the journey. Luckily my editor knows I can do better and gave me the right push to tell the story in a more productive way. Just as journalism is a long process of trial, error and feedback in search of a noble goal, so too does theater seek to clearly and cleverly tell the most important stories of our time.

“For me and the work that I’m doing, that means presenting a meaningful and authentic voice and image of American Indian people and American Indian women,” she says. “I couldn’t think of a more meaningful way of doing it than through theater.”