Founded in 1982, Native Earth is Canada’s oldest professional Indigenous theatre company. The early productions (1982-1986) were collective works directed by professionals such as Muriel Miguel of Spiderwoman Theatre in New York and the late Richard Pochinko. The company operated on a project basis, performing at The Theatre Centre and the Native Canadian Centre, as well as touring to reserves.
Native Earth Performing Arts is Canada’s oldest professional Indigenous theatre company.
The 1986 premiere of Tomson Highway’s The Rez Sisters went on to become the first North American, Indigenous written and performed production at the Edinburgh International Theatre Festival in 1989. 1986 was also the year the company began full-time operation with Artistic Director Tomson Highway and General Manager Elaine Bomberry.
Native Earth continued its growth and success into the mid-nineties with the award winning productions of Almighty Voice and His Wife by Daniel David Moses, The Rez Sisters and Dry Lips Oughta Move To Kapuskasing by Tomson Highway, Someday by Drew Hayden Taylor, and Moonlodge by Margo Kane. Most recently, Huff by Cliff Cardinal has been touring nationally and internationally since the 2015 production.
Native Earth has received 10 Dora Mavor Moore Awards and 39 Dora Mavor Moore Award nominations, two Floyd S. Chalmers Canadian Play Awards and the 1997 James Buller Award for Aboriginal Theatre Excellence. The emergence of many Indigenous playwrights in Canada and the development of many new plays and dance pieces continues to be facilitated through the annual festival Weesageechak Begins To Dance.
For the first time in our history NEPA is managing and operating our own vibrant venue: Aki Studio. The 120 seat black box theatre is situated in Daniels Spectrum, the revitalized arts and cultural centre in Regent Park. Aki Studio has been host to many Indigenous, multicultural, and independent theatre companies including fu-Gen, Cahoots, Obsidian, Acting Up Stage, Paper Canoe, and Agokwe Collective. We look forward to the Aki Studio becoming a national and international Indigenous performance venue.
We use the term Indigenous to encompass the First Nations, Métis, and Inuit of Turtle Island (North America), and also include Indigenous peoples from other regions including Latin America, Australia, New Zealand, and Greenland.