Street closures around the NAC during Ottawa Race Weekend

“Our Stories are Medicine”: Indigenous Theatre Takes Flight

Là où le sang se mêle/Where the Blood Mixes, Soleil Launière & Marco Collin © Jean-François Brière

Indigenous Theatre is here. The highly anticipated inaugural season has taken flight with the Mòshkamo festival, a two-and-a-half week “takeover” of the National Arts Centre, showcasing some of the best Indigenous music, theatre and dance.

“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.”
— Lori Marchand, Managing Director of NAC Indigenous Theatre

The 2019–2020 season celebrates Indigenous women and features more than 10 Indigenous languages, including Anishinaabemowin, Coast Salish, Cree, Gitxsan, Inuktitut, Kalaallisut, Nlaka’pamux’stn and Wolastoqiyik. Highlights includes an NAC Indigenous Theatre/English Theatre co-production of The Unnatural and Accidental Women by the Métis-Dene playwright Marie Clements, and Là où le sang se mêle/Where the Blood Mixes by Indigenous Theatre Artistic Director Kevin Loring.

“We are in the midst of an Indigenous renaissance,” Loring said. “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.”

One of the very first plays presented at the NAC in 1969 was The Ecstasy of Rita Joe, a seminal play about a young Indigenous couple caught in the poverty trap of inner city Canada, but written by a non-Indigenous playwright. Indigenous storytelling has come a long way since then.

Over the past two decades the NAC worked more closely with First Nations, Inuit and Métis artists across Canada, notably through its English Theatre department, the Music Alive Program, and Scene festivals that showcased hundreds of Indigenous artists. In recent years, the NAC directly consulted with Indigenous artists and leaders and identified the need for a permanent national stage for Indigenous stories at the NAC, leading to the creation of NAC Indigenous Theatre.

“The new Indigenous Theatre department is an historic and significant milestone in our history,” said NAC President and CEO Christopher Deacon. “Our theatre will finally create a space and presence for Indigenous voices and stories on the national stage.”

Find out more: or follow NAC Indigenous Theatre on Facebook.

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