NAC Indigenous Theatre

March 20, 2017

Spring is definitely in the air!

Spring is definitely in the air this March at the National Arts Centre and across the country, and with it comes change and transformation. And a Save-the-Date to everyone for the First Scene Symposium being held in Ottawa from June 15-20 as part of Canada Scene.

Following last month’s news at the Indigenous Performing Arts Alliance of Cole Alvis stepping down, and incoming news at Citadel Theatre of Christine Sokaymoh Frederick joining as Indigenous Associate Artist,  this month sees Native Earth’s Artistic Director Ryan Cunningham announcing his resignation. Following the recent news of Brittany Ryan’s new position as the Producer of Nightswimming, Brittany is now stepping down from her position as Interim Coordinator of Indigenous Theatre to move more fully into her full time life in Toronto. We wish her well in all her endeavours. Everyone who got to work with her at the NAC will miss her. We are really excited to welcome Lesley Parlane, Ottawa based, IPAA Grand Council member and storyteller as the new Interim Coordinator. Welcome Lesley!

Lesley has been working on Voices from the Adoption Files for two years, interviewing adoptees and community members affected by the scoop, and gathering material for this important storytelling show: VOICES FROM THE ADOPTION FILES. This one-day performance was presented at the NAC on March 16th.

Drawn from personal experience, these stories from the 1960s-adoption scoop depict the loss and grief of families separated, as well as the joy of reconnecting with siblings, culture, and community in later years. Poignantly told and generously shared, Voices from the Adoption Files weave together tales that highlight the power of ritual in healing, and the deep love that mends the spirit.

Stories were compiled and directed by Lesley Parlane and performed by Sage Cardinal, Steafan Hannigan, Beverley McKiver, Lesley Parlane, Louise Profeit-LeBlanc, Neal Shannacappo, and Olivia Tailfeathers.

The hiring process for the Artistic Director of Indigenous Theatre at the NAC continues.  Recently the Hiring Committee met to determine next steps for the short list of applicants. The remaining candidates are moving to the next phase of the hiring process: Community Engagement. This phase was developed by the Advisory Committee last fall, as a way for the applicants to be able to demonstrate themselves to their best advantage, and as an opportunity for some members of the Hiring Committee to travel to where the artists live and work. A hypothetical example of a Community Engagement activity could be inviting a couple of members of the Hiring Committee to observe how the candidate interacts with their peers in a storytelling workshop with youth, or it could be inviting folks to a meal. What’s important is that the candidates identify what the activity is going to be. Members of the Hiring Committee will  travel to meet with the candidates in their communities. Upon completion of the Community Engagement phase, the Hiring Committee will meet again and make their recommendations to the CEO. The goal is to to announce the Artistic Director this June.

Canada Scene with the First Scene Symposium planned for June 15-20 is in full swing. As a part of First Scene, Lindsay Lachance (Curator), with support from Sarah and Lesley, have developed Experiencing Indigenous Works- Developing Critical Voices.

Invitations to the guest speakers/witnesses have gone out and we will be sending out a public detailed invitation in the next newsletter. The goal of the 2-day event on June 15th and 16th will be to discuss and develop new discourses around Indigenous performance criticism. Stay tuned to check out more about First Scene and Canada Scene. Events and performances are announced on Canada Scene’s website here.

And from hereon out if you have any questions please contact: Lesley Parlane at

That’s all for now! Happy Spring!

‹ Back to timeline