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Indigenous Theatre, Managing Director Lori Marchand

Welcome to this first Indigenous Theatre season at the National Arts Centre!

Welcome to this first Indigenous Theatre season at the National Arts Centre! I grew up in Ottawa, and I first experienced theatre right here at the NAC. As a young girl, I met Chief Dan George, who played the role of David Paul in The Ecstasy of Rita Joe, the very first play staged at the NAC, 50 years ago. I remember the ballet of the same name that was presented here in 1974. And in 2009, 40 years after the original production, the play returned to the NAC in the form of a coproduction between my company, Western Canada Theatre, and NAC English Theatre. For the first time, all the Indigenous roles – and the direction, by Yvette Nolan – were entrusted to Indigenous artists. Kevin Loring gave a memorable performance as Jamie Paul. Several other important Indigenous works have been staged at the NAC over the years: Burning Vision and Where the Blood Mixes, for example; King Lear, whose Indigenous cast included the legendary August Schellenberg in the title role; For the Pleasure of Seeing Her Again, Michel Tremblay’s tribute to his mother, explored from a Cree point of view and performed by Margo Kane and Lorne Cardinal; and, most recently, Children of God, a testament to the resilience of Indigenous peoples. All these works have marked my artistic journey – and that of the NAC. It is here that, 50 years after the historic premiere of The Ecstasy of Rita Joe, we take our place on the national stage by inaugurating the first national Indigenous Theatre department in the world. Voices originating from coast to coast to coast; strong, authentic and diverse voices will come here to tell their stories – our stories – in French and English as well as in the languages of Indigenous peoples. We are so proud to be here, and to welcome you at last to NAC Indigenous Theatre.

Indigenous Theatre, Managing Director Lori Marchand