OUR STORIES ARE MEDICINE: CANADA’S NATIONAL ARTS CENTRE UNVEILS INAUGURAL SEASON OF WORLD’S FIRST NATIONAL INDIGENOUS THEATRE

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.

Buffy Sainte-Marie

September 15 in Southam Hall

Presented in collaboration with NAC Presents in partnership with BMO Financial Group

Buffy Sainte-Marie continues to create songs that reveal distinct shades of an artist already revered as a pioneer. Winner of countless awards, Buffy’s songs weave the human narratives left out of the history books.

Susan Aglukark and the NAC Orchestra (Conductor Nicolas Ellis)

September 20 in Southam Hall
Presented in collaboration with the NAC Orchestra and NAC Presents

Discover the vibrant and beautiful culture of the North through storytelling and throat-singing with JUNO Award-winning Inuk singer-songwriter, activist and recording artist Susan Aglukark and friends.

Finding Wolastoq Voice

September 21-23 in the Azrieli Studio

By Samaqani Cocahq (Natalie Sappier)
A Theatre New Brunswick production in association with Prairie Theatre Exchange
Presented in English, featuring Wolastoqiyik.

Finding Wolastoq Voice is a powerful debut work from Indigenous artist-turned-playwright Samaqani Cocahq (Natalie Sappier) of Tobique First Nation, a leading voice in New Brunswick’s thriving Indigenous art scene. Featuring the evocative choreography of dancer Aria Evans, this beautiful dance-theatre hybrid is the deeply personal coming-of-age story of a young Wolastoqiyik woman who is awakened by the voices of her ancestors. Evans draws on her experiences as a woman of mixed race (Mi’kmaq/Black/British) to beautifully convey feelings of sorrow, grace, and hope. Andy Moro has created an organic, natural world that shifts and moves seamlessly, providing the foundation for this inspiring work.

Mînowin

September 26-28 in the Azrieli Studio

Created by Dancers of Damelahamid
World Premiere co-presented with NAC Indigenous Theatre and NAC Dance and developed with support from the National Arts Centre’s National Creation Fund Co-producers The CanDance Network Creation Fund, National Arts Centre, The Vancouver East Cultural Centre (The Cultch), DanceWorks, Neighbourhood Dance Works with support from the Canada Council for the Arts The production of this work was supported by Dance Victoria’s Chrystal Dance Prize

The Dancers of Damelahamid are an Indigenous dance company from the Northwest coast of British Columbia. Their rich history of masked dance celebrates the diversity of the many Indigenous cultures of Canada.  Weaving together narrative, song, movement, and new multimedia, Mînowin unites the foundational values of reciprocity of Northwest Coastal cultures with contemporary dance to illuminate the process of finding direction. Inspired by the organic moments that arise when we connect with one another, Mînowin links Northwest coastal landscapes with contemporary views of Indigenous dance, shining a light on the moments of connection and understanding that lead us ultimately to renewal.

Unikkaaqtuat

January 9-12 in the Babs Asper Theatre
A collaboration between The 7 Fingers, Artcirq, and Taqqut Productions
Canada Council for the Arts New Chapter, First Air, Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec, Conseil des Arts de Montréal, Ilagiiktunut Fund - Qikiqtani Inuit Association, and Government of Nunavut’s Department of Economic Development and Transportation. Developed with support from the National Arts Centre’s National Creation Fund. Video content created by world-renowned Inuit artist and illustrator Germaine Arnaktauyok,and directed by Neil Christopher. Featured language: Inuktitut

Inuit founding myths are the inspiration for Unikkaaqtuat, a cross-cultural blending of circus arts, theatre, music, and video. The actors, musicians, and acrobats of Unikkaaqtuat perform in a world of shadows and video projections, transporting us to an ancient realm where life did not known death, days had not seen nights, and where Inuit had not encountered white people. Created by a new generation of storytellers and performers from across Nunavut and Nunavik, Unikkaaqtuat highlights the talents of Inuit artists at a national and international scale, fostering a unique environment for cross-cultural collaboration, while honouring the Inuit, their traditions, and their vision for a future beyond this project. Unikkaaqtuat brings together Inuit and non-Inuit artists, led by the musicians and circus artists of Artcirq of Igloolik and Taqqut Productions of Iqaluit, and joined by circus artists from The 7 Fingers of Montreal and a similarly diverse team of designers and technicians.

Kiinalik: These Sharp Tools

January 22-February 9 at the Irving Greenberg Theatre Centre, home of the Great Canadian Theatre Company (GCTC) Created by Evalyn Parry, Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory, Erin Brubacher and Elysha Poirier with Cris Derksen A Buddies in Bad Times Theatre Production / Co-presented with and hosted by Great Canadian Theatre Company Featured language: Kalaallisut

At once strangely complex and astonishingly simple, Kiinalik: These Sharp Tools is a concert and conversation between two people: both women, storytellers, and artists. Queer theatre-maker Evalyn Parry and Inuk artist Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory met on an Arctic expedition from Iqaluit to Greenland, setting out with very different ideas of what dreams the expedition might fulfil. One was realizing her father’s wish to see the far North, the other was navigating the routes of her ancestors. Embodying the stories of their heritage, Evalyn and Laakkuluk put a face to the colonial histories, power structures and the changing climate that lie between them.

Inner Elder

April 7-10 in the Azrieli Studio
By Michelle Thrush  
Presented in English, featuring Cree

A young girl searches for her Inner Elder among the shambles of her family life in 1970s Calgary, our guide on a journey of transformation through real-life memories and the power of laughter. In this devastatingly funny one-woman show, Gemini Award-winning Cree artist Michelle Thrush weaves seemingly disparate anecdotes into an organic and powerful testimony that that will sear your heart, open your eyes, and have you laughing out loud.

Hot Brown Honey

May 5-9 in the Babs Asper Theatre
By The Briefs Factory (Australia)
Presented in English

Welcome to the Hive where these subversive and completely original genre-defying global Indigenous artists who call Australia home turn up the heat. Hot Brown Honey is sass made flesh, serving up a no-holds-barred, hip-hop helping of stereotype-smashing, consciousness-raising empowerment. Equal parts theatrical masterpiece, riotous burlesque and devastating candour, Hot Brown Honey mows down any preconceptions that get in the way, hammering home important universal truths in an explosion of colour, culture and controversy. Get ready to decolonize and moisturize!

INDIGENOUS THEATRE TICKETS

Visit indigenoustheatre.ca for complete listing of performances for the National Arts Centre’s Indigenous Theatre and the Mòshkamo festival.  
Tickets for Indigenous Theatre go on sale today, with the opportunity to select four or more performances and save 15%.

For additional information, visit the NAC website at indigenoustheatre.ca. Follow our journey at facebook.com/NACIndigenousAutochtoneCNA and celebrate with us by tagging #NACIndigenous/#CNAutochtone

THANK YOU TO PARTNERS

The inaugural season of Indigenous Theatre at Canada’s National Arts Centre is made possible through the support of many generous individuals and organizations from across the country. The National Arts Centre Foundation wishes to acknowledge the leadership support of Shirley Greenberg, C.M., OOnt, the late Dr. Paul and Mrs. Elsje Mandl, Frank and Debbi Sobey, and an Anonymous Donor. Thank you to Season Sponsor BMO Financial Group, Major Partner The W. Garfield Weston Foundation, Supporting Partner, Bell Let’s Talk, Hotel Partner The Embassy Hotel and Suites, Official Rail Partner VIA Rail, and Presenting Sponsor of Mòshkamo, Facebook, as well as The Printing House. We also express our sincere gratitude to the Government of Canada and the Canada Council for the Arts for their longstanding support of the NAC and the arts in Canada.

THE INDIGENOUS THEATRE TEAM

Kevin Loring is an accomplished Canadian playwright, actor and director and was the winner of the Governor General’s Award for English Language Drama for his outstanding play, Where the Blood Mixes in 2009. The play explores the intergenerational effects of the residential school system. It toured nationally and was presented at the National Arts Centre in 2010, when Mr. Loring was serving as the NAC’s Playwright in Residence. A Nlaka’pamux from the Lytton First Nation in British Columbia, Loring created the Songs of the Land project in 2012 in partnership with five separate organizations in his home community. The project explores 100-year-old audio recordings of songs and stories of the Nlakap’amux People. Loring has written four new plays based on his work with the community including Battle of the Birds, about domestic violence and power abuse, and The Boy Who Was Abandoned, about youth and elder neglect. A versatile artist and leader Loring has served as the co-curator of the Talking Stick Festival, as Artist in Residence at the Vancouver Playhouse Theatre, as Artistic Director of the Savage Society in Vancouver, as a Documentary Producer of Canyon War: The Untold Story. 

Lori Marchand became the first Managing Director of the NAC’s Indigenous Theatre in April 2018. She is a nationally recognized leader within the professional theatre community who made a significant impact as executive director of Western Canada Theatre for over 18 years prior to joining the NAC. A member of the Syilx First Nation, she has played a key role in the encouragement, development and production of Indigenous work. Ms. Marchand spent much of her early years in Ottawa when her late father, the Honourable Leonard S. Marchand, was elected as Member of Parliament for the riding of Kamloops-Cariboo. During her time at Western Canada Theatre, Ms. Marchand used her considerable leadership skills to make live theatre accessible, innovative, powerful and financially sustainable, and helped make WCT the southern Interior’s largest professional theatre company. She also served on the BC Arts Council from 2010 to 2017.

NAC Indigenous Theatre team members also include Mairi Brascoupé, Indigenous Cultural Resident  (Algonquin Anishinaabe), Amy Ede, Marketing and Communications Officer (mixed heritage, K’atl’Odeeche First Nation); Dr. Lindsay Lachance, Artistic Associate (Algonquin Anishinaabe); R.J. Mitchell, Assistant Technical Director (Kanienkehaka [Mohawk]); and Peter Lyne, Technical Director (Métis).

ABOUT THE NAC’S INDIGENOUS THEATRE

Since opening its doors on June 2 1969, the National Arts Centre has acted as a national, bilingual and multidisciplinary performing arts centre, located in the nation’s capital, on the traditional and unceded territory of the Algonquin Nation. In its first year, almost 50 years ago, the NAC presented The Ecstasy of Rita Joe by George Ryga, a play that was groundbreaking because it reflected an Indigenous experience. Since then, the NAC has continued to feature Indigenous artists and productions on its stages.

The idea of establishing a national Indigenous Theatre department arose in recent years. The need has become ever more urgent, as the Indigenous community has asserted that creating Indigenous works without the full involvement of Indigenous voices and actors, playwrights and directors is no longer acceptable. Consultations with Indigenous artists and leaders led to establishing an advisory committee involving recognized Indigenous artists, youth and Elders and NAC representatives. Stakeholders identified the need to create a permanent national stage for Indigenous stories at the NAC on an equal level with the already-existing English and French Theatres.

As part of the celebrations of its 50th anniversary in 2019, the NAC is acknowledging its longstanding commitment to Indigenous artists and their work with the launch of the first national Indigenous Theatre in the world. The first season will commence in September 2019, bringing the artistic stories, vision and experience of Indigenous Peoples to the forefront.

ABOUT THE NATIONAL ARTS CENTRE

The National Arts Centre collaborates with artists and arts organizations across Canada to help create a national stage for the performing arts, and acts as a catalyst for performance, creation and learning across the country. Founded on June 2, 1969, the National Arts Centre is celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2019 with an array of special programming and activities throughout the year.  A home for Canada’s most creative artists, the NAC strives to be artistically adventurous in each of its programming streams – the NAC Orchestra, English Theatre, French Theatre, Dance and NAC Presents. NAC Indigenous Theatre will begin its first season of programming in the fall of 2019. The NAC’s National Creation Fund invests up to $3 million of privately raised funds every year in 15 to 20 ambitious new works by Canadian artists and arts organizations. The NAC building has recently undergone two extensive renewal projects, generously funded by the Government of Canada, that have re-oriented the NAC to the city; allowed the NAC to become more welcoming and accessible; and returned its performance halls and production facilities to contemporary standards. The NAC is at the forefront of youth and educational activities, offering artist training, programs for children and youth, and resources for teachers in communities across Canada. The NAC is also a pioneer in new media, showcasing the performing arts across the country through the Kipnes Lantern, the largest transparent LED installation in North America; using technology to teach students and young artists around the globe; creating top-rated podcasts; and providing a wide range of NAC Orchestra concerts on demand. The NAC is the only bilingual, multidisciplinary performing arts centre in Canada, and one of the largest in the world.


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FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT

 

 Amy Ede
Marketing/Communications Officer
NAC Indigenous Theatre
613-947-7000 x540

amy.ede@nac-cna.ca

 

Sean Fitzpatrick

Communications Officer

NAC English Theatre

613-947-7000 x389

sean.fitzpatrick@nac-cna.ca    

 

Annabelle Cloutier  

Executive Director of Communications and Public Affairs
National Arts Centre  

613 947-7000 x260                                          

annabelle.cloutier@nac-cna.ca

 

Carl Martin  
Senior Advisor, Communications

National Arts Centre  
613 947-7000 x560
carl.martin@nac-cna.ca

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