Inner Elder

Written and performed by Michelle Thrush

2024-04-11 20:00 2024-04-13 21:00 60 Canada/Eastern 🎟 NAC: Inner Elder

In-person event

Inner Elder recounts one woman’s transformation from a young girl navigating the shambles of her family life to Gemini Award-winning actor and artist. Michelle Thrush weaves the seemingly disparate anecdotes from her life into powerful and hilarious testimony that will open your eyes, sear your heart, and have you laughing out loud. Note: The performance on April 13th will be American Sign Language (ASL) interpreted.

Read more

Azrieli Studio,1 Elgin Street,Ottawa,Canada
April 11 - 13, 2024

≈ 55 minutes · No intermission

Our programs have gone digital.

Scan the QR code at the venue's entrance to read the program notes before the show begins.

Last updated: April 8, 2024

Creator’s Note

Inner Elder is my love letter to all of us that made it through. Thank you for being here.
Thank you to all the Elders who hold the stories of this territory,
Thank you, Lori Marchand and Kevin Loring, 
Thank you to the staff and crew of National Arts Centre.

A Note From NAC Indigenous Theatre

We are so honoured to be finally welcoming Michelle Thrush and this personal and profound production to the NAC stage! Meant to be part of our first season, honouring the beauty, strength and resilience of Indigenous women, it is a theme that has resonated throughout every season, and Michelle's story, beautifully told, reminds us of this: Our culture is the source. Kukstayp! Limlemt! Tansi! Miigwetch! Thank you, Michelle. And thank you for joining us to honour the incredible Michelle Thrush!


Inner Elder was developed during workshops in 2017, supported by Lunchbox & One Yellow Rabbit. The performance premiered at the 2018 High Performance Rodeo at Lunchbox.

Creator Q&A with Michelle Thrush

When developing the story and character for your show, what inspirations were you able to take from your own life? Has this impacted how you view your family relationships?

This solo show is actually my real-life story. So, all of it came from my life. All of it is real. I do not feel like Inner Elder impacted any relationships in my life or with my family as it’s my truth.

How is performing in a one-women show different than other forms of acting, such as ensemble theatre productions or film sets?

When you are doing a one woman show, it can be a lot more difficult as you do not have other characters to rely on or to react to. Doing a solo show, you are all the characters, and it means that for 60 minutes I do not get a break, or to be able to walk off stage and catch my breath as you do in large ensemble pieces. I find doing solo shows (as this is my third one) that it can also be easier in a lot of ways too because I do not have to rely on others either. Sometimes when you’re doing a big theatrical piece or on a film, there are so many other moving parts and people that you work with in unison, and when you’re doing a solo show, you rely on your own timing and instincts in the show.

Of course, with Inner Elder I have a great technical team supporting me. This part is essential with the development, the direction, the set and lighting, and all that wonderful stuff that makes a show come alive, but the content is about relying on my memories and my abilities as an actor to be able to step into those different memories. One thing I can say is standing on stage for an hour and sharing some of the most intimate memories of my life can also make you feel very vulnerable as a human being. To be on stage and open your heart to an audience is something that is not always easy.

The show combines many different elements of humour in storytelling with experiences of trauma and resilience. How were you able to balance these two viewpoints while developing and performing your script?

Balancing humour and storytelling with trauma and resilience is something that I feel we do as Indigenous people quite easily. Because of how much trauma we’ve experienced in our history, and in our immediate families, I am very much aware of what it means to balance that with humour. It is what has kept us going and one of our superpowers, I think. I know some of the funniest people in my life happened to be in my own family.

There’s a certain sense of humour that comes with trauma – a humour that allows us to be able to step aside and look at what is happened, AND not to take things too seriously. I know with this show I took all the experiences that have happened in my life that could be seen as traumatic, and I flipped them around so that the humour is a different angle of looking at them. I love doing comedy. It’s one of my favourite things and to be able to take my life and turn it into a bit of a comedy was such an incredible experience.


  • Creator/Performer Michelle Thrush
  • Director Karen Hines
  • 03-sandi-somers
    Lighting/Scenic Designer Sandi Somers
  • Composer Sandy Scofield
  • 05-dianne-goodman
    Company Manager Dianne Goodman
  • 06-neil-fleming
    Technical Director Neil Fleming
  • Producer Grant Burns


Inner Elder

Michelle Thrush

Karen Hines

Lighting/Scenic Designer
Sandi Somers

Sandy Scofield

Company Manager
Dianne Goodman

Technical Director
Neil Fleming

Grant Burns

NAC Indigenous Theatre

Managing Director
Lori Marchand

Artistic Director
Kevin Loring

Michelle Yagi

Associate Producer
Brit Johnston

Producing Resident
Jessica Campbell-Maracle

Associate Producer #ReconcileThis
Josh Languedoc

Technical Director, Theatre Department
Spike Lyne

Cultural Advocate
Mairi Brascoupé

Education Coordinator
Kerry Corbiere

Communications Strategist
Ian Hobson

Marketing Strategist
Marie-Pierre Chaumont

Senior Marketing Manager
Bridget Mooney

Production Team - Azrieli Studio

Stephane Boyer 

Leigh Uttley 

Wardrobe Head 
Monique Duval

International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees