Our Annual Festival of Indigenous Work

November 9-19, 2016
7:30pm | $15 Tickets
Aki Studio

Currently in its 29th year, this annual festival features an array of new works, works-in-development and presentations in dance, theatre and inter-disciplinary styles.  

From intimate relationships to dystopian futures, comedy, dance, poetry and everything in between, this year’s festival will take audiences on a different journey every night.

 Special events include a new evening cabaret and the return of our Professional Development Series.

WED 9 | THU 10 | FRI 11 | SAT 12 | SUN 13
TUE 15 | WED 16 | THU 17 | FRI 18 | SAT 19

Weesageechak Begins to Dance 29

Save 60% with a Festival Pass!
Contact our box office at 416-531-1402 or boxoffice@nativeearth.ca to get yours now.


Single Tickets $15, available online.
$60 Festival Passes available by telephone.
Purchases made online or by telephone are by credit card only.
At the door payments accepted by cash, debit, VISA and Mastercard.
For information on group rates, call the box office at 416-531-1402.

Box Office Telephone: 416-531-1402 Email: boxoffice[at]nativeearth.ca

More information on ticket pick-up here.


staff v3

Meet Our Team

As we launch a season celebrating  transformations, it’s fitting that the team at Native Earth has also be shifting. This summer, we expanded our box office team and welcomed two new intern coordinators to assist with Weesageechak Begins to Dance 29.  With five new faces to introduce, we offer these get-to-know-you questions.

Let’s start with something simple. Where can you be found on a Saturday evening?

Annie MacKay (Patron Services Representative): “Seeing a play or making dinner with friends.”

Tyler Marsden (Marketing Coordinator): “In my backyard, jamming out on the ukulele with my roommates and friends.”

L-R: Ashley Bomberry & Tyler Marsden

Joelle Peters (Patron Services Representative): “Either at home writing and playing my ukulele, watching a show (live or on screen), or out with friends exploring the city.”

Looks like we have two ukulele fans here! Perhaps we’ll have a jam sometime in the office. Okay,  Ashley and Peter, tell us something on your bucket list. 

Ashley Bomberry (Festival Coordinator): “The number one item on my bucket list is to create art that changes minds and lives in some lasting and meaningful way.”

Peter Kelly (Patron Services Representative): “Own a theatre space!”

Sounds like you’re well on your way. Is what you’re doing now what you always wanted to do growing up?

Peter Kelly: “Yes. Dance is my life!”

Ashley Bomberry: “What I’m doing right now isn’t what I dreamt of as a child – I’m doing so much more than I could have dreamed. At the same time, I don’t feel like I’m as far as I should be or as accomplished as I’d like to be. But I have had a lifetime full of adventures and travel and friends along the way and I wouldn’t trade that for anything.”

Annie MacKay: “Yes – finally!”

Joelle Peters: “Yes, 100%. Creating art and helping others do the same makes my heart happy.”

Tyler Marden: “I have always wanted to work within Indigenous arts and media. While my focus has not been theatre-related, I am excited to work alongside other Indigenous artists who share the same passion for creative storytelling as I do.”

Joelle Peters & Annie MacKay

L-R: Joelle Peters & Annie MacKay

How about long-term. What is your dream job?

Tyler Mardsen: “Executive Producer of a web and mobile Indigenous production company.”

Annie MacKay: “Actor-writer-plus-indefinite-number-of-hyphens.”

Peter Kelly: “An Artistic Director of an international dance company, organization or festival.”

Ashley Bomberry: “My perfect or dream job would be creating (writing, directing, producing) films and television programs to share Indigenous stories, values, perspectives and humour, which would otherwise go untold/unseen. I’d like to hold workshops in Indigenous communities around the world to empower the youth and provide an outlet for them to share their own stories, visions and dreams.”

Sharing Indigenous stories is what Native Earth is all about! So can you tell us an Indigenous artist whose work you enjoy?

Tyler Marsden: “I am a big fan of Drew Hayden Taylor’s work after first reading Me Funny front-to-back in university. (Shout out to the Occasions!)

Ashley Bomberry: “I wouldn’t be able to pick a favourite play by I do love everything written by Daniel David Moses and Marie Clements. Their voices are so strong and so needed in today’s cultural landscape of race and gender politics, painful pasts, and promising futures.”

Peter Kelly: “Santee Smith.”

Annie MacKay: “I still can’t get Cliff Cardinal’s Huff out of my head!”

Joelle Peters: “Margo Kane’s Moonlodge.”

Native Earth Staff

Clockwise from bottom: Ryan Cunningham, Joelle Peters, Isaac Thomas, Peter Kelly, Annie MacKay, Jessica Lea Fleming, Kat Horzempa, Yolanda Bonnell

How about the big picture: if you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you want to go?

Joelle Peters: “Currently, I’d love to go to Peru.”

Peter Kelly: “Europe.”

Tyler Marsden: “I would want to travel to Australia and New Zealand.”

Ashley Bomberry: “If I could travel to anywhere in the world, I’d go to Aotearoa and create some cross-cultural exploration work with Maori artists.”

Annie MacKay: “I have to pick? Spain and Turkey are both high on my list because I’ve never been, but I also want to go back to Vietnam! Hang En Cave specifically. Google It.”

Oh, we will. Finally, do you have a favourite quote?

Tyler Marsden: “Any man who must say ‘I am king’ is no true king at all” – George R.R. Martin

Joelle Peters: “Sometimes I’ll start a sentence and I don’t even know where it’s going. I just hope I find it along the way.” -Michael Scott, The Office

Peter Kelly: “You do you.”

Ashley Bomberry: “Let yourself be silently drawn by the stronger pull of what you really love. It will not lead you astray.” – Rumi

Thank you and wachiya/welcome to you all!

To learn more about each of these new team members,
visit our staff page.


RUTAS 2016

Presented in partnership with Aluna Theatre
October 5-16, 2016, Aki Studio
Four-Show Deal $70


November 9-19, 2016, Aki Studio
Single Tickets $15, Festival Pass $60


Written and Performed by Sheldon Elter
January27 – February 5, 2017, Aki Studio
Single Tickets $15-$30


Presented in partnership with DanceWorks
March 30-April 1, 2017, Aki Studio
Single Tickets $25, Double Bill $40


May 2017, Aki Studio

Connect with Native Earth!

Header For Jobs

Staff Making a Splash!

Bonnell_Yolanda Humber HeadshotYolanda Bonnell Featured in Thunder Bay Magazine

Yolanda Bonnell was recently interviewed by Kyle Poluyko for The Walleye Magazine, an arts and culture magazine in Bonnell’s hometown of Thunder Bay.

Though she didn’t intend on going to school in Toronto, Bonnell found herself studying theatre at Humber College. She credits education there not only with making her a better actor but a better person.  “There’s a strong focus on finding your artistic voice and what you want to say in the world.” Read Full Interview

Gloria Mok - NEPA HeadshotGloria Mok Featured in Theatre Ontario’s Blog

Gloria Mok recently attended Places Please! Stage Management and the Creative Process from Pre-Production to End of Run with Maria Popoff at Alumnae Theatre, and shared some reflections on learning with her.

“Communication is key. You are responsible for navigating multiple lines of communication, an intricate web of artistic relationships. You must learn to walk the line between the needs of the director, the needs of the cast, and needs of the design team.” Read Full Article 

Cropped Huff Dora Nominations

2016 Dora Awards

Congratulations to Cliff Cardinal on receiving two 2016 Dora Mavor Moore Awards.
Cliff was awarded Outstanding New Play and Outstanding Performance by a Male for HUFF, produced in Native Earth’s 2015-2016 Season.

Cliff Cardinal Dora AwardsCliff Cardinal Dora Awards 2

Watch Acceptance Speech

Dora AwardsDora Awards 2

Top Photos by Anne-Marie Krytiuk ©2016 TAPA
Bottom Photos c/o Native Earth Performing Arts

Our production of HUFF by Cliff Cardinal received FOUR Dora Mavor Moore Award nominations!

We are so grateful for the acknowledgement of the hard work that went into producing this important and impactful Indigenous story.

2016 Dora Award Nominations:
Outstanding Production (HUFF)
Outstanding New Play (Cliff Cardinal) – WIN!
Outstanding Performance by a Male (Cliff Cardinal) – WIN!
Outstanding Lighting Design (Michelle Ramsay)

Meegwetch to everyone involved in making this production possible: Cliff Cardinal, Karin Randoja, Jackie Chau, Michelle Ramsay, Alex Williams, Jennifer Stobart, Pip Bradford, Ksneia Ivanova, and the team at Native Earth: June Epstein, Jessica Lea Fleming, Kat Horzempa, Yolanda Bonnell, Philip Turkiewicz, Gloria Mok.

Tansi from Ryan Cunningham & Isaac Thomas!

Also, a big congratulations to all other 2016 nominees!
#nepaHUFF #DORAS2016 TAPA Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts

And congratulations to Andy Moro & Luca Caruso-Moro on their 2016 Dora Mavor Moore Award nomination for Outstanding Sound Design for STITCH by Cliff Cardinal, a Culture Storm production presented by Native Earth Performing Arts.

Stitch Nomination Announcement
Photo Credits: akipari

Header Banner w NEPA Logo

May 23 – 29, 2016
Buy Tickets Now

Click here to see the
2016 Paprika Festival schedule

Native Earth is proud to partner for the first time with Paprika Festival to bring their youth-led performing arts festival to Aki Studio. The Paprika Festival celebrates the work of young and emerging artists, and operates as a training ground for tomorrow’s professional artists.

Together, through this partnership, Native Earth and Paprika Festival will offer a barrier-free accessible program for Indigenous youth and residents of Regent Park, creating opportunities for young artists to become more engaged than ever before.


Single Tickets $10, available online here.
Tickets for the 15th Anniversary Celebration are $30.
The Three-Show Pass is available by telephone only.
Purchases made online or by telephone are by credit card only.
At the door payments accepted by cash, debit, VISA and Mastercard.
For information on group rates, call the box office at 416-531-1402.

Box Office Telephone: 416-531-1402
Email: boxoffice[at]nativeearth.ca

More information on ticket pick-up here.

Paprika logo final-01 Paprika is a youth-led performing arts festival celebrating young artists as they create original performances with the support of an entire artistic community.

Read More


“Aki” is the Anishnaabemowin word that encompasses
earth, land, place.

Native Earth Performing Arts helms a beautiful black box, creation/rehearsal/performance space in Regent Park. Aki Studio is available for performance rentals, and flexible enough to become your new favourite venue for special events.

Our 120 seat black box studio is fully accessible for both patrons and performers.

In keeping with the values of Native Earth, it was imperative in the planning of this venue to create an accessible, functional and safe space in which to nurture our growing artist and patron base.

Aki Studio is equipped with a comprehensive technical rig with flexible seating arrangements.

Though our capacity is 120, a standard proscenium configuration comfortably allows 118 seats.Our back stage boasts two dressing rooms, a wheelchair accessible bathroom and laundry facilities. Our 120 seat black box studio is fully accessible for both patrons and performers. Our front of house has box office and ticketing services, including online box office.

Inquire for Corporate and Not-for-Profit Rates
Contact: isaac[at]nativeearth.ca

Rental Inquiries

IMG_8035_72 For availability information or to request a quote please download and complete the Rental Request Form and email it to: Isaac Thomas, Managing Director at isaac[at]nativeearth.ca

View Technical Specifications and General Information

View a Sample Seating Configuration

View Larger Map

Photos of Aki Studio by Ed Maruyama Photography.
This facility is supported through Toronto Arts Council Strategic Funding

Dance Double Bill Homepage Image w Title

Dance Double Bill

Join us for a full night of Indigenous dance
and save 20% off your ticket price!

(Only available by telephone at 416-531-1402)

Luu hlotitxw: Spirit Transforming
by Dancers of Damelahamid
7pm |  Aki Studio | $25

Presented in partnership with DanceWorks, this cross-country three-night showcase of Indigenous dance begins with
Dancers of Damelahamid’s signature new piece, Luu hlotitxw: Spirit Transforming, a meditation on the process of introspection, self- discovery, and change that all people must go through.
More About Luu hlotitxw: Spirit Transforming

Spirit Transforming 3

NGS (Native Girl Syndrome)
by Lara Kramer
9pm | Aki Studio | $25

The evening continues with the hard-hitting and very personal NGS (Native Girl Syndrome), an original work by Ojibwa/Cree dancer and choreographer Lara Kramer. NGS dives into street culture, as enacted in a raw theatrical performance by Karina Iraola and Angie Cheng. Their drug-filled, disassociated personas take the audience on a dynamic journey of addiction, loss, and alienation.
More About NGS (Native Girl Syndrome)



Single Tickets $25 available online.
$40 Double Bill Package available by phone at 416-531-1402.
Thursday-Saturday at 7pm & 9pm.
Purchases made online or by telephone are by credit card only.
At the door payments accepted by cash, debit, VISA and Mastercard.

Box Office Telephone: 416-531-1402 Email: boxoffice[at]nativeearth.ca

More information on ticket pick-up here.

Dancers of Damelahamid photos by Derek Dix
Lara Kramer Danse photo by Marc J Chalifoux

Quebec City 5

HUFF in Quebec

We’ve just passed the midway point on our nine-city Huff tour, and we continue to offer a closer look at the nitty-gritty of this adventure. Stage Manager Jennifer Stobart gives us the inside scoop on the ups and downs of such an ambitious tour.

Copy of NYA 13

L-R: Jennifer Stobart (Stage Manager) & June Epstein (Technical Director)

Here we are on day one, week seven, of our nine-week tour of Huff, my day off… I have been asked to contribute to the tour blog. I was told I could write about insider information about touring, what it feels like to tour, what are the challenges of touring. What have you learned on the tour?

Well, when it comes right down to it, the day-to-day of touring, the challenges, frustrations and joys, all seem to fade away. Keeping an even-keel, and looking forward, not backward, helps a tour run smoothly. If you are doing it right – “What do you mean we can’t get on the train with our set? Okay then, um, on to plan B”…”I am sorry? Did you say one of our set bags did not get on this flight?”…”The interview is NOW, at the theatre, I forgot, okay… let me make some calls and see if I can fix my error” – all of those small moments fade away.

Montreal 2

The marquee outside Montreal’s MAI

You might be surprised to hear this, but, the one thing on the road which can make or break a stay in a city… the food. On every tour I have ever done, maintaining a healthy diet has been the most challenging issue. All restaurants assume you are there to eat food as a treat. Generally, the reasonably priced restaurants offer french fries with practically every meal… a salad often is iceberg lettuce and a couple slices of tomato…”fresh” vegetables of the day are usually over cooked… and, although once a week is okay, a breakfast can not be bacon and eggs every morning.

Hotel living necessitates going out for every meal, so on the days when you wish to hole up and sleep and stay in, ordering take out is the only answer, but pizza can not be a steady diet, and no one delivers breakfast.

In each city we have visited I have eaten in one extravagant restaurant per stay, ($30.00 meals… I guess it depends on your definition of extravagant). Despite the beauty of the food and the dinner, more often I end up craving a simple salad with a dressing I can make. I love cooking, eating fresh and savoury foods. However, even when one has a small kitchenette in the hotel room, food creation is restricted. I cannot go out and buy all the spices, oils and ingredients I want, as I hate the waste, and I can not carry all of that on the plane. Anyone who knows the woes of traveller’s stomach will know my story.

Edmonton 1

Cliff Cardinal takes an interview over a meal.

Cliff will attest to how often I can whine about wanting vegetables, and “real” food. But only I can attest to the fact that taking Huff on the road is worth every missed opportunity to eat really well.

– Jennifer Stobart
Stage Manager

Next stop on the Huff Tour: The team travels to Manitoulin Island, home to the Debajehmujig Theatre Group. Then a return to British Columbia, with a stop at the Rotary Centre for the Arts in Kelowna, and the SPARK Festival at the Belfry Theatre in Victoria.

Feature image of Cliff Cardinal preparing for opening
at Théâtre Périscope in Quebec City, Quebec.


HUFF in Alberta

You’ve probably heard by now that Huff is on tour (nine cities!), and now we’re excited to offer a closer look at the nitty-gritty of this adventure.  In looking back at the first two legs in Alberta, Artistic Director Ryan Cunningham shares some insight of taking this production on tour.

We couldn’t have had a better place to launch this tour than the High Performance Rodeo. Produced by One Yellow Rabbit in Calgary this is Canada’s biggest, boldest and longest running International Arts Festival, and one of my favorite festivals in the country. Not just for the incredible programming but for how well they treat their artists. Everyone is so welcoming and generous. And it’s a month long!

Calgary Load-In

Loading into the West Village Theatre in Calgary. L-R: June Epstein, Jennifer Stobart

I’ve always been jealous of Calgary audiences who get to see so many amazing productions from around the globe every year. And this year, Huff is among them. It is such an honor to be a part of their 30th anniversary, and to pay our respects to such a wonderful Spirit who co-created so much incredible art with the Rabbits and fostered so much talent in Canada: our dear friend Michael Green; Elk Shadow. Cheers to you my friend and another fantastic Rodeo. Thank you for nurturing, guiding and teaching so many of us.

One of the most exciting parts about going on tour is the ‘unknown’ factor. There will always be something that comes up that has never been an issue before. It’s never a question of if, it’s always when. Which is inevitable when you are putting up a play in different venues. You actually have to re-design the show for each venue and we are doing this show in nine venues over nine weeks.

Calgary Load-In Chaos

The HUFF team gets a little riotous at Q2Q. L-R: Jennifer Stobart, June Epstein, Ryan Cunningham, Karin Randoja

Thank you to our incredible and supportive design team; the fantastic Michelle Ramsay who has been re-designing our lights for each venue; the awesome set design from Jackie Chau that perfectly re-creates the world of the play, and yet is able to accommodate the various venues we find ourselves in; our incredible sound designer, Alex Williams, who added more sound cues before we left and lent us an amazing meter, that auto adjusts sound levels and volume. This small thing may not sound amazing but this one little detail has saved us much time in each load-in. And when you only have twelve hours to put up a show, that means a lot. All of your work and attention to detail continues to support us along the way. Thank you!

Huge thanks to the work of our technical director, June Epstein. She put in long hours in our first two cities as we refined the process and figured out the needs of the production as a touring production. Thank you, Jennifer Stobart our incredible stage manager; your touring experience has all ready been invaluable on this tour. And big thanks to our Native Earth team back in Toronto for all the work, planning and continued support for the show; Isaac, Kat, Yolanda and Pip. THANK YOU!


June Epstein setting lighting levels in Edmonton’s Milner Library Theatre.

And finally… a BIG shout out to Cliff. It is such a heart-wrenching joy to witness the different reactions from audiences to your performance. I continue to be impressed by your professionalism, your work ethic and your rigor as an actor. I am so proud of this production and honored that Native Earth can continue to bring this awesome piece of theatre to audiences across Canada.

Next stop: We’ll be in Vancouver for the PuSh Festival, and then we make a short stop at home (North York) before continuing east to Quebec. Can’t wait!

Ryan Cunningham, Artistic Director

Feature image of Ryan Cunningham & Cliff Cardinal during a talk-back at High Performance Rodeo in Calgary, Alberta.