Our Stories are Medicine: Canada’s National Arts Centre unveils inaugural season of World’s First National Indigenous Theatre

by ahnationtalk on May 1, 2019214 Views

Season Celebrates Resilience of Indigenous Women and Features More than 10 Indigenous Languages

OTTAWA (Canada) – Canada’s National Arts Centre today unveiled details of the inaugural season of the first national Indigenous Theatre department in the world. The season will celebrate Indigenous women’s resilience, strength and beauty, with 9 productions out of 11 written and created by women. In addition to English and French, more than 10 Indigenous languages will be spoken in the works presented next year, including Anishinaabemowin, Coast Salish, Cree, Gitxsan, Inuktitut, Kalaallisut, Nlaka’pamux’stn, Wolastoqiyik, and other languages.

First season highlights include performances by legendary singer-songwriter Buffy Sainte-Marie and JUNO Award-winning Inuk recording artist Susan Aglukark, as well as established and emerging artists from across Canada and the world. These include Marie Clements, Charles Bender, Margaret Grenier, Artcirq (with The 7 Fingers), and the Indigenous artists appearing in Australia’s Hot Brown Honey production, to name a few.

The new Indigenous Theatre is led by Artistic Director Kevin Loring, Governor General award-winning playwright, director and actor from the Nlaka’pamux Nation in British Columbia, and Managing Director Lori Marchand, a member of the Syilx First Nation and the nationally recognized former executive director of Western Canada Theatre.

“We are in the midst of an Indigenous renaissance,” said Kevin Loring “The work that has been done over the decades in Indigenous performing arts is coming to a point where we are reaching a critical mass, where the artists are bringing forward new ways of thinking about the work in relation to old ways of telling our stories. Our stories are medicine.”

The creation of the Indigenous Theatre at the National Arts Centre was part of the Centre’s 2015-2020 strategic plan in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action. “The new Indigenous Theatre department at the National Arts Centre is an historic and significant milestone in our history,” said Christopher Deacon, President and CEO of the NAC. “Our theatre will finally create a space and presence for Indigenous voices and stories on the national stage. This significant initiative builds on the relationships that the NAC has been fostering for decades with exceptional Indigenous artists throughout the land.”

MÒSHKAMO OPENING FESTIVAL (SEPTEMBER 11-29)

The NAC’s Indigenous Theatre 2019-2020 season gets underway September 11 with a two and half-week Indigenous arts and community festival called Mòshkamo: Indigenous Arts Rising that will takeover the National Arts Centre, located in Ottawa on unceded Algonquin Anishinaabeg territory. Mòshkamo (pronounced moosh-ka-moh) is an Algonquin word, gifted to the NAC by Elders from the nearby community of Kitigan Zibi, meaning the act of appearing out of water, inviting others to bear witness to its arrival.

In addition to performances, Mòshkamo will include artist talks and workshops, visual arts exhibits, free public programming and family-friendly activities, culinary events, and Indigenous arts programming for national and international artists, producers and presenters. This immersive takeover of the NAC’s public spaces will involve all of the existing NAC disciplines: theatre, dance and music. Mòshkamo will also shine the spotlight on the culinary arts during a special gala on September 12 featuring renowned Saskatoon Chef Rich Francis and NAC Executive Chef, Kenton Leier, who will collaborate and curate a menu infused with indigenous ingredients and techniques.

“In a season focused on themes of cultural reclamation, Mòshkamo proudly claims the Indigenous Theatre’s rightful place at the NAC and on the national stage,” said Lori Marchand. “Mòshkamo sets the tone for our first season, a season filled with strong and authentic Indigenous voices.”

All works presented by NAC Indigenous Theatre are based on, performed, or created by Indigenous artists, reflecting at least one of the following criteria: an Indigenous playwright, an Indigenous director or an Indigenous co-production.

INDIGENOUS THEATRE INAUGURAL SEASON DETAILS

The Unnatural and Accidental Women

September 11-21 in the Babs Asper Theatre
Written by Marie Clements
Directed by Muriel Miguel
An NAC Indigenous Theatre / NAC English Theatre Co-production
Presented in English, featuring Coast Salish.

Award-winning Métis-Dene playwright Marie Clements’ tender and provocative The Unnatural and Accidental Women courageously demands that we never forget the continuing crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls across Canada. This powerful production fearlessly walks Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, pushing us ever closer to truth and remembering.

Là où le sang se mêle / Where the Blood Mixes

September 13-15 in French (co-presented with Zones Théâtrales) AND September 16-18 in English In the Azrieli Studio

Written by Kevin Loring
Translated and directed by Charles Bender
A Menuentakuan production in collaboration with Teesri Duniya Theatre
In French or English, featuring Nlaka’pamux’stn.

Kevin Loring’s Là où le sang se mêle / Where the Blood Mixes, winner of the 2009 Governor General’s Award for Drama, is an emotionally powerful play that unflinchingly brings home the pain that the residential school system caused generations of Indigenous communities. Irreverently funny and brutally honest, Where the Blood Mixes is a story of loss and redemption set in the heart of the Fraser Canyon.

Mokatek and the Missing Star (Mokatek et l’étoile disparue)

September 13-14 in Le Salon

By Dave Jenniss
Music by Élise Boucher-DeGonzague
Directed by Pier Rodier
A coproduction by Vox Théâtre (Ottawa) and Productions Ondinnok (Montréal)
Co-presented with Zones Théâtrales
Presented in French, featuring Anishinaabemowin with chants in Abenaki.

Remembering his mother each night before he sleeps, young Mokatek recounts his day to the brightest star in the sky, the North Star. But one night, under the full moon of the summer solstice, Mokatek realizes that the star has disappeared. So begins a journey that will test his courage and strength with every step. Along the way, Mokatek is guided by the spirits of sounds and animals that move him ever closer to his own origins and the land. Combining puppetry, songs and dance, Mokatek and the Missing Star will awaken you to the beauty and wealth of Indigenous languages.

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