All posts by Native Earth

From AD Keith Barker

Nothing beats a good story. The best storytellers can make 8 hours of data-entry riveting. As a theatre maker I am always striving to be a better storyteller. When I am in a room full of talented storytellers, it is the best kind of alchemy. I laugh more, cry more, argue more, think more, but most of all, I remain present. This is the gift of good storytelling and live theatre.

This is why I feel our Weesageechak Festival is so important in the work we do. It allows artists to bring work in its rawest form to the stage; sharing the guts of it whiles the blood and sweat of creation is still wet on the floor. It is a culmination of playwrights madly writing, dancers and choreographers building physical language, dramaturges finely tuning words to the action, while actors put action to words. This is the energy that fills the Aki Studio on any given night of the festival, and is what makes Weesageechak so special.

That energy of creation and the excitement in finding new ways of approaching the work is why we programmed Ipperwash this season. The play comes to us fresh from its success at the Blyth Festival this past season. The collaboration with the communities of Stony and Kettle Point First Nation is unlike anything I have seen before. Falen Johnson and Jessica Carmichael have done a lot of work to honour the story of resistance, resilience and reclamation.  We along with Blyth Artistic Director Gil Garratt are excited to give Ipperwash a second production in Toronto. Falen and Jessica are talented creators who have played a huge part in the success of Native Earth and we are honoured to have them in our 2017/18 season.

Finding Wolastoq Voice is a piece I have been excited about since I first heard about it. Five minutes on the phone with its creator Samaquani Cocahq (The Water Spirit) Natalie Sappier, and I was sold. Her passion for the work is impressive. Her clarity and vision infectious. She has partnered with the equally talented Artistic Director of Theatre New Brunswick, Thomas Morgan Jones to create this stunning work. Rarely have we had the opportunity to partner with an East Coast company, so we jumped at the chance to partner with Theatre New Brunswick to showcase the hugely talented Natalie Sappier, Aria Evans, and the gifted design team of Andy Moro and Michael Doherty, directed by Thomas Jones. This is a piece not to be missed.

In closing, this year I will work on trying to connect more with artists, to be more generous with people, to lead with empathy not judgement, and to celebrate this life through art (and hockey). I look forward to seeing many of you at the theatre. What a gift. All my relations, K.

2017-2018 Season


Presented in partnership with Aluna Theatre
October 4-8, 2017 | Aki Studio & Ada Slaight Hall
Single Ticket: Free – $18


November 15-25, 2017 | Aki Studio
Single Ticket: $15


Native Earth presents a Blyth Festival Production
February 6-18, 2018 | Aki Studio
Single Ticket: $15 – 25


Native Earth presents a Theatre New Brunswick Production
March 29-31, 2018 | Aki Studio
Single Ticket: $20 – 25


May 14-20, 2018 | Aki Studio


June 2018 | Aki Studio

Connect with Native Earth!
TW@nativeearth • NativeEarthFB • NativeEarthIG


October 4-8, 2017
Tickets $13-18
Aki Studio &
Ada Slaight Hall


Inclusive – discursive – daring – unapologetic – Aluna Theatre invites you to CAMINOS 2017, a festival of new works-in-progress from local Pan-American, Indigenous, and Latinx artists who are pushing the boundaries of theatre, dance, performance art, music, visual arts, installation, and film.

The CAMINOS 2017 line-up includes works by Leslie Baker with Emma Tibaldo and Joseph Shragge (Montreal); Augusto Bitter; Martha Chaves; Peter Chin and Jeremy Mimnagh; Monica Garrido; Beatriz Pizano; Victoria Mata; Aemilius Milo and lwrds duniam; Jivesh Parasram; Lido Pimienta and Gein Wong; Charles C. Smith; Toronto Laboratory Theatre; Nawi Moreno-Valverde and Melissa Anne Fearon; Irma Villafuerte; and Gabriela Guerra Woo (Mexico City).

Buy Tickets

For all the details, including festival line-up,
visit the CAMINOS website.

4 a 8 de octobre, 2017
Entrada $13-18
Aki Studio &
Ada Slaight Hall


Inclusivo- discursivo- atrevido- ¡incorregible! Aluna Theatre te invita a CAMINOS 2017, un festival de nuevos trabajos en curso de artistas panamericanos locales, transindígenas, y latinx, quienes desafían los límites del teatro, danza, performance, música, artes visuales y cine.

La programación de CAMINOS 2017 incluye piezas creadas por Leslie Baker con Emma Tibaldo y Joseph Shragge (Montreal); Augusto Bitter; Martha Chaves; Peter Chin y Jeremy Mimnagh; Monica Garrido; Beatriz Pizano; Ximena Huizi; Victoria Mata; Aemilius Milo y Lourdes Duniam; Jivesh Parasram; Lido Pimienta y Gein Wong; Charles C. Smith; Toronto Laboratory Theatre; Nawi Moreno-Valverde y Melissa Anne Fearon; Irma Villafuerte; y Gabriela Guerra Woo (Ciudad de México).

Compre Billetes

Founded in 2001 as a response to the misrepresentation and under-representation of cultural diversity on our stages, Aluna Theatre aimed to form a new and distinct language of theatrical presentation. For over a decade, Aluna Theatre has been attempting to shift the scales of imbalance by bringing social justice, equality and human rights to the forefront of all productions.

Aluna Theatre fue fundada en el 2001 con el objetivo de desarrollar un lenguaje teatral original y como respuesta a la poca y mala representación de artistas de diversas culturas en la escena canadiense, especialmente artistas inmigrantes de América Latina. Por más de una década, Aluna Theatre ha intentado cambiar las pesas de la balanza abordando los temas de justicia social, igualdad y derechos humanos en todas sus producciones.

Read More / Más de Aluna Theatre

New Artistic Director Ryan Cunningham

Native Earth Performing Arts is pleased to announce our new Artistic Director Ryan Cunningham, whose fresh leadership and zealous vision will move NEPA into yet another exciting era of creating strong Indigenous work for our community and beyond.

“We were impressed and excited about many of Ryan’s ideas for Native Earth, which included multidisciplinary connections with the arts community and the national Indigenous community,” says Jed DeCory, President of NEPA’s Board of Directors. “We feel that with his energy and vision we will be able to continue on a path to a positive future.”

Ryan is a proud Métis (Cree/Scottish) from Edmonton, Alberta and has worked as a professional actor across Canada. He is the co-founder and Artistic Manager of Alberta Aboriginal Performing Arts and the co-curator/producer of The RUBABOO Arts Festival, which kicks off on January 30th in Edmonton. He is co-founder of The Agkowe Collective which continues to bring the award winning play to communities across Canada and beyond. Ryan is a board member of two prominent national organizations: IPAA (Indigenous Performing Arts Alliance) and the CanDANCE Network.

Ryan recently performed in Yukonstyle at the Berkeley Street Theatre (Canadian Stage). As an actor he has performed in notable productions such as King Lear and The Ecstasy of Rita Joe (National Arts Centre), Urinetown: The Musical and Vimy (Firehall Arts Centre) and Next Year’s Man of Steel (Shadow Theatre). Ryan can be seen right now on APTN (Aboriginal Peoples Television Network) in the third season of the award winning series Blackstone, as well as Mixed Blessings, Earth: Final Conflict and Blue Murder.

Ryan’s involvement with Native Earth began as an actor in the fall of 2003 during the 16th Weesageechak Festival. He has been a featured actor in NEPA mainstage productions: Annie Mae’s Movement, Death of a Chief and Dreary & Izzy. Ryan was a Festival Associate at Native Earth supporting the 23rd annual Weesageechak Begins to Dance.

Native Earth welcomes Ryan to its community and family. We look forward to sharing his artistic vision in the months to come as he steps into our office as of January 6, 2014.


 Media Reference: Jessica Carmichael Phone: (416) 531.1402 E-mail:



Native Earth Performing Arts is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to creating and producing Native performance works. Founded in 1982, Native Earth Performing Arts is Canada’s oldest professional Native theatre company. Native Earth has participated in the development of a community of artists, and in the creation of several Aboriginal classics including 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. In 1989, Native Earth instituted an annual development festival of new work called Weesageechak Begins to Dance. Since then, the Weesageechak Festival has helped develop over 100 new dance and theatre works by emerging and established artists, including Princess Pocahontas and the Blue Spots by Monique Mojica,  Annie Mae’s Movement by Yvette Nolan, Tales of an Urban Indian by Darrell Dennis and Gordon Winter by Kenneth T. Williams.

The millennium has brought about a great deal of change at NEPA, and has also brought us around, full circle, reconnecting us to our beginnings. In 2004-2005 Yvette Nolan helmed the largest Native Earth production in years, The Unnatural and Accidental Women by Marie Clements featuring a cast of thirteen. As ever, NEPA set a new standard, and the show was selected by NOW Magazine as one of the Top Ten theatre productions of 2004.  Our relationship with Indigenous peoples abroad has expanded and deepened, with the epic Honouring Theatre Tour of Turtle Island, Aotearoa and Australia. We braved Death of a Chief, a landmark adaptation of Julius Caesar (co-production with the NAC) and a full-scale opera (Giiwedin, a co-pro with An Indie(N) Rights Reserve) which played with both legally recognized official languages as well as Anishinabemowin. The second decade in the new millenium connects NEPA to its roots with the ongoing demand for the now canonical work, Almighty Voice and His Wife.

Native Earth’s training initiatives feature the creation programs Animikiig and Thundering Voices, diverse practical apprenticeships and on-the-job skills acquisition on professional level projects, including full-scale productions.

Our thirty-first anniversary season will focus thematically on “Community” as we continue to plant roots in our new NEPA home, with a playing space and administrative headquarters at the Regent Park Arts and Cultural Centre.


Weesageechak 26

Weesageechak Begins To Dance – 26
November 21-23, 2013
Join us as Weesageechak begins to dance for the 26th time. This year’s festival places a special emphasis on local Indigenous artists and their works in development!

Let’s Play.

Day One: Thursday, November 21 @ 8pm

Rutas Festival Preview *A Sneak Peak of our partnership with Aluna Theatre’s Rutas Panamericanas Festival featuring excerpts of:

What I learned from a decade of fear created & directed by Trevor Schwellnus in association with Aluna Theatre
La Maleta (The Suitcase) created by Bea Pizano
In Spirit created by Tara Beagan and the original creative team

Day Two: Friday, November 22 @ 8pm
Emerging and Veteran Female Voices *Playwright in residence PJ Prudat and Gemini Award winning artist Jani Lauzon bring to life the Aki Studio with text and music 

I Call Myself Princess: The Story of Tsianina Redfeather created by Jani Lauzon
Postcards created by PJ Prudat

Day Three: Saturday, November 23 @ 8pm
Animikiig and Thundering Voices Night *A showcase of new and exciting Indigenous voices featuring our partnership with the 3rd year talents from the Centre of Indigenous Theatre

Deadbeats created by Garret C. Smith
Aluasa’sit created by Cathy Elliot
Good Grief created by Lorrie Gallant and L.M. VanEvery
The Circle: Visions of a Hoop Dancer created by Tjay Henhawk
The Longest Way Around created by Heather Marie Annis

The festival closes with an Indigenous Networking After-Party sponsored by
the Indigenous Performing Arts Alliance

Let’s Dance.

Each night is $15


I Call Myself Princess: The Story of Tsianina Redfeather

I Call Myself Princess: The Story of Tsianina Redfeather
by Jani Lauzon with direction & dramaturgy by Ruth Madoc-Jones

“It has been a breathtaking ride researching this work. I call it an opera within a play. And while things have changed there are so many things that have not. Especially our relationship to identity and popular culture, the Opera based on Tsianina’s life being the pop culture of the time. This wouldn’t be happening without the generosity of many.” Jani Lauzon

Day 2: Thursday, November 21st @ 8pm 
Aki Studio Theatre – 585 Dundas St. East

Back to Weesageechak 26

The Circle: Visions of a Hoop Dancer

by Tjay Henhawk with direction & dramaturgy by Cole Alvis

A coming of age story about a young boy who must overcome many obstacles and negative influences. As he struggles through his journey will he find the true meaning of his visions?

Featured in the Animikiig / Thundering Voices night of the festival
Saturday, Nov. 23rd @ 8pm* 
Aki Studio Theatre

*Followed by an Indigenous Networking After-Party sponsored by
the Indigenous Performing Arts Alliance

Back to Weesageechak 26


By NEPA playwright-in-rez PJ Prudat with direction/dramaturgy by Nigel Shawn Williams

A young Métis man, in search of his stolen roots, sets out on an enlightening journey to unearth his lost identity and find his blood family.

Day 2: Thursday, November 21st @ 8pm 
Aki Studio Theatre – 585 Dundas Street East

Back to Weesageechak 26

The Longest Way Around

The Longest Way Around
by Heather Marie Annis
with direction & dramaturgy by Spy Dénommé-Welch

William Elias the child of two intersecting paths – that of traditional Ojibwa living and imported Christian values. At the epitome of a crossroads, what must he lose when faced with an ultimatum?

Featured in the Animikiig / Thundering Voices night of the festival
Saturday, Nov. 23rd @ 8pm* 
Aki Studio Theatre

*Followed by an Indigenous Networking After-Party sponsored by
the Indigenous Performing Arts Alliance

Back to Weesageechak 26