October 22, 2021 update on live performances and events at the NAC.

16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence

Finding Wolastoq Voice, Aria Evans. Andy Moro, set & lighting design; Sherry Kinnear, costumes. © Fred Cattroll
‘da Kink in My Hair. NAC English Theatre/Theatre Calgary co-production. Cory Sincennes, set & costumes; Gerald King, lighting. © Trudie Lee
I Lost My Talk © Milan Podsedly
The Unnatural and Accidental Women, Monique Mojica and PJ Prudat. Andy Moro, set, props and projection design; Sage Paul, costumes; Jeff Harrison, lighting design. © Justin Tang
ShoShona Kish © Ratul Debnath
Ghosts of Violence, Atlantic Ballet Theatre of Canada © Sasha Onyshchenko

From November 25 to December 10th, the National Arts Centre will join the community in bearing witness to the strength and resilience of everyone impacted by gender-based violence by participating in the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence campaign.

For 16 days, we will share photos on our Kipnes Lantern of stories told through music, theatre and dance that inspire us to reflect and act against violence.

The international campaign takes place annually, beginning on November 25 with the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, and concluding on December 10 when we mark World Human Rights Day. On December 6, Canada’s National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women, we remember the lives lost in the tragic mass shooting at l’École Polytechnique de Montréal over 30 years ago.

This year, the public education campaign illuminates why #OurActionsMatter in the fight to prevent gender-based violence within our communities. By working together to call out, interrupt and raise awareness, we can work to eliminate the disproportionate rate of violence faced by women, girls and members of the LGBTQ2S+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning and two-spirit) community.

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The Stories

‘da Kink in my Hair

By Trey Anthony | An NAC English Theatre/Theatre Calgary Co-production 

“You just had to tell me once that it happen to you and I would tell you, Sista, it happen to me too. And even it didn’t and I was one of the lucky few, I would still believe you. I believe you. I believe. You believe me. All women, all little girls should be believed. Do you believe?
Trey Anthony, ‘da Kink in My Hair

‘da Kink is raw, energetic theatre, showcasing eight fascinating, multi-faceted women. With riffs on sexuality, families and inner lives, this theatrical kaleidoscope is accompanied by live rhythm-and-blues and gospel music. 

‘da Kink was a revolution when it sprang from the Toronto Fringe to land on the main stage of the Mirvish season in 2005. The script is so entertaining and so moving I jumped at the opportunity to work with Theatre Calgary to bring this beloved work back to Canadian audiences,” says Jillian Keiley, Artistic Director, NAC English Theatre.

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I Lost My Talk 

I Lost My Talk, Rita Joe C.M. Mi’kmaw elder and poet | Composer John Estacio | Conducted by Alexander Shelley and the NAC Orchestra. 

She used to say writing was her therapy. She had a lot of painful memories and she had to get them out. She became a writer because she wasn’t allowed to write. The more they tried to break her will, the more she went her own way.” 
Ann Joe, daughter of Mi’kmaw Elder and poet Rita Joe, C.M.

I Lost My Talk is based on the poem by Mi’kmaw elder and poet Rita Joe, C.M. Rita Joe penned her poem to express not only the pain and suffering she experienced at Schubenacadie Residential School in Nova Scotia, but also her hope and conviction that her words could guide and inspire Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples across Canada to journey to a place of strength and healing. NAC Award composer John Estacio created a lush musical score which is performed in synergy with a film by world-renowned director Barbara Willis Sweete. 

This work premiered January 14, 2016. Commissioned for the National Arts Centre Orchestra to commemorate the 75th birthday of the Right Honourable Joe Clark, P.C., C.C., A.O.E. by his family.

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Finding Wolastoq Voice

By Samaqani Cocahq (Natalie Sappier) | Directed by Thomas Morgan Jones | A Theatre New Brunswick production in association with Prairie Theatre Exchange

“Crying. Singing with my Wolastoq sister who awaken the songs in me.”
Samaqani Cocahq (Natalie Sappier), Wolastoqiyik playwright

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 created an organic, natural world that shifts and moves seamlessly, providing the foundation for this inspiring work.

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Ghosts of Violence

Choreographed by Atlantic Ballet Theatre of Canada’s Founding Artistic Director and Choreographer Igor Dobrovolskiy

“Everyone has a responsibility to help eradicate the silence that allows gender based violence to continue.”
Susan Chalmers-Gauvin, CEO, Atlantic Ballet Atlantique Canada

Ghosts of Violence is a unique and emotionally-charged work inspired by women who have lost their lives as a result of domestic violence. It premiered at the NAC on February 15, 2011. This full-length ballet – combining dance, theatre and multimedia – aims to capture the memory of these silent victims, telling stories of their struggles, hopes and joys, and of our loss as a society because of their deaths. Conceived and choreographed by Atlantic Ballet Theatre of Canada’s Founding Artistic Director and Choreographer Igor Dobrovolskiy, the work hopes to bring this important issue into the national spotlight.

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ShoShona Kish (Digging Roots)

“There is a deep wound at the heart of our nations that can only be healed by [our strength and will to act].”ShoShona Kish, Anishinabekwe, JUNO Award-winning artist

Musical partners ShoShona Kish and Raven Kanatakta form the basis of the Digging Roots sound, blending influences of everything from blues to reggae, and from hip hop to indie-rock. They performed songs from their album For The Light at the NAC’s Fourth Stage in 2014.

Inspired by their travels, For The Light is a kaleidoscope of global roots and blues infused songs born from the inner cities, the back roads and everywhere in between. The album’s 12 songs, co-written by Raven and ShoShona, reflect a refined sense of storytelling – luminous and sophisticated. Richly weaving subtle references and sounds from their indigenous roots, the lyrics tell the tales of travelers, troublemakers, lovers and heroes. An eclectic tapestry of light and dark sound, their music includes stories of resistance and resilience, simple pleasures and wide open spaces.

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The Unnatural and Accidental Women                                 

By Marie Clements | Directed by Muriel Miguel | An NAC English Theatre/NAC Indigenous Theatre Co-production

“Our women are strong, they are survivors, and they are beautiful and complex in all things.”
Marie Clements, playwright of The Unnatural and Accidental Women  

Award-winning Métis-Dene playwright Marie Clements’ tender and provocative play The Unnatural and Accidental Women courageously demands that we never forget the continuing crisis of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls across Canada. In this remarkable play, the spirits of ten women bear witness to each other’s lives and deaths as they convene to support Rebecca’s search for answers about her own mother, who went for a walk and never returned.

Using humour and deeply rooted ancestral knowledge to tell their stories, The Unnatural and Accidental Women fearlessly walks Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, pushing us ever closer to truth and remembering.