Q. You are the Creative Producer/Director for two ground-breaking, multimedia works featuring the NAC Orchestra this season: Dear Life and I Lost my Talk. How would you describe these works?
A. Dear Life is an autobiographical short story by Alice Munro. It’s a reflection on childhood and how roads not taken in youth haunt us in adulthood. This project transforms it into a multidisciplinary piece with music, film, spoken word and singing. I Lost my Talk is based on a poem by Mi’kmaq poet and elder Rita Joe. It was inspired by the time she spent in residential school when she feared she would lose her language, her culture, and the tradition of storytelling. It features a lush orchestral score by Canadian composer John Estacio, Guna and Rappahannock actor and playwright Monique Mojica performing the poem live onstage and a film directed by award-winng filmmaker Barbara Willis Sweete, featuring choreography by Santee Smith (Tekaronhiahkhwa) from the Kahnyen′kenaka Nation.
Q. To what extent is the new Music Director of the NAC Orchestra, Alexander Shelley, involved in these projects?
A. I knew instantly when I met Alexander Shelley, that he is a visionary. It was his discovery of the poems and literature that inspired these projects.
Q. We understand that the creation of these works has benefited from a “workshop” process. How does this help?
A. Alexander Shelley and the musicians of the Orchestra have embraced this creative adventure. The workshops have allowed us to test the visuals with our production designers from Montreal’s Turbine Studio.
When I first heard the music for Dear Life performed at our rehearsal in July, it confirmed to me that this project belongs on the world stage.
By Carl Martin