The National Arts Centre’s new theatre department aims to create an inclusive space for Indigenous storytelling - The Globe and Mail - Canadanewsmedia
Connect with us

Arts

The National Arts Centre’s new theatre department aims to create an inclusive space for Indigenous storytelling – The Globe and Mail

Published

on


Monique Mojica, left, and PJ Prudat perform a scene in The Unnatural and Accidental Women by Marie Clements at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa, on Saturday, Sept. 7, 2019.

Justin Tang

In a rehearsal studio in Ottawa’s National Arts Centre, the faint smell of sweetgrass lingers as performers rehearse The Unnatural and Accidental Woman, a shatteringly prescient play written two decades ago about a serial killer who preys on Indigenous women. In a cathartic dance scene, the cast place their hands to their hearts, to the ground, as if laying down their medicine, and gesture toward the sky. They let loose a war cry, weaving and swaying to the music. Beats and shouts resonate with majestic force inside the room.

It’s an assertion of voice and laying claim to a space that is wholly theirs. While in recent decades, Inuit and First Nations performers at the NAC have come and gone, this time their residency here is a permanent one.

In September, the NAC is opening the first National Indigenous theatre department in the world. Artists from communities across the country will share a stage with French and English actors, using the space to tell their stories. Although the themes may be those of displacement and colonialization – how it feels to have one’s identity, culture and spirituality shaped and taken – within those stories, they say, there will always be something to be grateful for. “The works that we present are always meant to heal and to expose the poison and to laugh,” said Kevin Loring, a Governor General’s Award winner who was appointed as the department’s inaugural artistic director. “There’s medicine in the comedies. And this medicine is in the celebration of our people, our work, and our stories.”

Story continues below advertisement

Groundbreaking as the new theatre department is, it has still faced challenges since its inception. Heritage Canada did not pledge a requested $3.2-million, leaving the department scrambling to make up for an unforeseen budget shortfall. It has had to depend on contributions from both the English and French theatre departments. “Now, they have to fundraise with this department, as opposed to it just being baked into the cake.” Mr. Loring says.

As part of an outreach program, the theatre group created an All My Relations price, in which Indigenous peoples can get a discount to see plays from the season lineup.

Adrian Wyld

Mr. Loring has a powerful collection of works that show both the pain and the beauty of being Indigneous in Canada, which he hoped to bring to a target audience of Indigenous people. “I want to tell stories that are reflective of their realities. But being at the NAC, we’re speaking to a primarily Ottawa audience,” he says. Loring had hoped that the company’s work, staged in Indigenous languages, would travel to more remote communities where this type of theatre isn’t commonly accessible.

But with the loss of the anticipated funding, the Indigenous Theatre Department will have to get creative – find partnerships and scale down, or perhaps hold off on touring outside of Ottawa. As it stands now, the Indigenous Department has to consider that the English and French theatre departments, as stakeholders, will now have a say when partnered on a project.

The brand new department faces another critical shortage: The Indigenous Theatre department had planned to bring several nations to the stage in their own languages. Lori Marchand is the department’s managing director and one of her responsibilities is to find skilled speakers and translators. For her, this task has underscored how few speakers there are available and how at risk Indigenous people are of losing their languages. “Each language is in a different stage of health,” she adds. “It has really highlighted the frailty of where each of our languages are.” The United Nations declared 2019 the Year of lndigenous Languages to raise awareness of the endangered status of many of them. Finding people who can help the actors speak and act in one of Canada’s 60-plus Indigenous languages, and ensuring all nations have a voice on a national stage, requires substantial efforts.

In September, the NAC is opening the first National Indigenous theatre department in the world.

Adrian Wyld

The Canadian government loosely classifies Indigenous people as First Nation, Métis or Inuit, yet the reality is, there are closer to a hundred different tribes and nations settled across the continent. And of course, that number was far greater precontact. Mr. Loring recognizes it’s next to impossible to showcase them all. “What we can do is support the artists that are coming out of the communities and support the artists that have been doing the work and hopefully, be able to support [the artists] through mentorships and through partnerships. And through connecting the next generation of artists as well.”

As in any sector in Canada, Indigenous people are working hard to carve out a space where they can have a voice, in a land that was once theirs.

But a challenge remains, of making Indigenous people feel welcome. “The National Arts Centre of Canada is an elite space for elite artists and it feels exclusive,” Mr. Loring says. His team wants the community to feel comfortable coming the NAC to see work that represents them. As part of outreach, the theatre group created an All My Relations price, in which Indigenous peoples can get a discount to see plays from the season lineup.

Story continues below advertisement

For these audiences, this could be the first time that they will see their own stories reflected on a national stage, changing the narrative and challenging stereotypes. For other audience members, this theatre will provide an opportunity to learn, maybe for the first time, what Indigenous peoples in Canada have endured.

The stories are tragic and thoughtful, scary and humorous, but they are also healing and provide catharsis. “It’s the theme of the season really that we are celebrating the resilience and strength that is bringing us through the tragedy to hope and transformation,” Ms. Marchand says.

Live your best. We have a daily Life & Arts newsletter, providing you with our latest stories on health, travel, food and culture. Sign up today.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Arts

Art gallery sending artist from the Rock to the Emerald Isle – CBC.ca

Published

on

By


Philippa Jones, executive director of Eastern Edge Gallery in St. John’s, says a partnership between Ireland and Newfoundland and Labrador could benefit the province’s art community. (Alex Kennedy/CBC)

A St. John’s art gallery will be sending an artist to Ireland and welcoming one in return — and it’s all thanks to its new studio space.

Philippa Jones, the gallery’s executive director of Eastern Edge Gallery, says a partnership between the gallery and Donegal art company Artlink began earlier this year, when some of Artlink’s members came to St. John’s for an art conference.

“They were wandering around trying to figure out … where the art centres were,” Jones said. “And they dropped into Eastern Edge and we said ‘hi’ and from there we just formed a really great partnership.”

A recent Eastern Edge expansion gives the gallery the room to do projects like an international residency exchange with Artlink, she said.

As part of this partnership, Eastern Edge will send one artist from Newfoundland and Labrador to Donegal, about 220 kilometres north of Dublin, for a four-week residency in their own studio. The residency is self-directed, meaning it’s up to the artist what they want to do. The artist will also receive 6,000 Euros, nearly $9,000 Cdn, for fees including travel and living costs.

An artist from Ireland will also come to Newfoundland and Labrador, and work in residency at Eastern Edge.

Jones said the residency is a great opportunity for Newfoundland and Labrador to establish itself on the international art map.

“We have a really unique, vibrant arts community with a lot of independent artists making a living and a life here enriching the culture,” Jones said.

“It also then gives the opportunity for Newfoundland and Labrador artists to travel to Ireland and, in the same vein, see how their art industry works and runs. But also make work over there, make connections, form friendships.”

Strengthening relations with Ireland

With WestJet cancelling its direct flights between St. John’s and Dublin last year, Jones says she hopes the art connection between the two countries can carry over to the runway.

“There’s a history of an extremely strong relationship already between Ireland and Newfoundland and Labrador,” Jones said.

“It would definitely be advantageous and make everyone’s life easier if the direct flights were returned. Taking 24 hours to get to Donegal is not going to be as much fun or as easy for our artists when they have to go directly.”

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Arts

After Hiatus, Trump Awards National Arts and Humanities Medals – The New York Times

Published

on

By


For the first time since he took office, President Trump will award the National Medal of the Arts and the National Humanities Medal, honoring eight recipients including the actor Jon Voight, the novelist James Patterson, the musicians of the United States Military and the conservative think tank the Claremont Institute.

The medals, given annually since the 1980s, were last awarded in 2016, by President Obama, who named about a dozen honorees for each medal, as was typical in past years. This week, in a terse announcement, the administration named four winners each for the arts and the humanities. They will be honored on Thursday at the White House.

In addition to Mr. Voight and the musicians of the military, the winners of the arts medal are the bluegrass musician and singer Alison Krauss and the philanthropist Sharon Percy Rockefeller, who is also president of WETA, Washington’s public television and radio station.

The humanities honorees include Patrick O’Connell, the chef at the Inn at Little Washington, an acclaimed restaurant in Washington, Va., and Teresa Lozano Long, a philanthropist in Austin, Tex., as well as Mr. Patterson and the Claremont Institute.

The lack of awards since he came into office had underscored Mr. Trump’s uneasy relationship with the arts, and his rocky history with the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, which he attempted to close down shortly after his inauguration.

In 2017, all 16 members of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities resigned in protest after Mr. Trump made comments in defense of white nationalists after the violent demonstrations in Charlottesville, Va. And for the past two years, Mr. Trump and First Lady Melania Trump have skipped the Kennedy Center Honors, a major event on the Washington cultural calendar.

The arts and humanities medals are among the country’s most prestigious cultural honors. In 2016, the year they were last given, winners included the comedian Mel Brooks, the interviewer Terry Gross, the trumpeter and composer Wynton Marsalis, the biographer Ron Chernow and the novelist Sandra Cisneros.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Arts

Beaux Arts Bazaar runs until Dec. 24 in Quesnel – Quesnel Cariboo Observer

Published

on

By


Looking for a unique, handmade gift for yourself or someone special this Christmas?

Quesnel Art Gallery member artists and artisans are selling a wide variety of one-of-a-kind items for the next five weeks during the gallery’s annual Beaux Arts Bazaar.

At least a dozen artists and artisans from Quesnel and the surrounding area are participating, selling a range of handcrafted items, including bookmarks, ornaments, pottery, carvings, felting, digital art, glass work, painting, photography, drawings, soy candles and cards.

The Beaux Arts Bazaar is open Tuesday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Quesnel Art Gallery at 500 North Star Rd.

The show opened Saturday, Nov. 16 and runs to Tuesday, Dec. 24, and it is sponsored by KPMG and DHJ Design Studio.

For more information about the Beaux Arts Bazaar, visit quesnelartgallery.com.

READ MORE: Beaux Arts Bazaar starts Saturday at Quesnel Art Gallery



editor@quesnelobserver.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

These felted mice by Marguerite are just some of the local works available at the Beaux Arts Bazaar.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Stay up to date

Subscribe for email updates

Trending