All posts by Native Earth

God and The Indian

by Drew Hayden Taylor

Presented in partnership with Firehall Arts Centre

May 2-17, 2015

Buy Tickets

Directed by Renae Morriseau
Set and Lighting Design by
Lauchlin Johnson
Costume Design by
Alex Danard

Starring Thomas Hauff and Lisa C. Ravensbergen

While panhandling outside a coffee shop, Johnny, a Cree woman, is shocked to recognize a face from her childhood spent in a residential school. Desperate to hear him acknowledge the terrible abuse inflicted on her and other children at the school, Johnny follows Anglican bishop George King to his office and confronts him.

“I guess it helps when you are the same race as God.” – Johnny

Running time is approximately 85 mins.
No intermission.
Audience Advisory: Mature content.

Special God and The Indian Events include:
Post-Show Panel,  Book Launch, Dinner & Show,  Cast Q&A’s
Read More

TICKETS

Tickets $15-$25, available online.

Tuesday-Saturday at 8pm; Sunday at 2pm.
Pay-What-You Can (PWYC) available for Tuesday performances.
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.


REVIEWS

“[An] emotional, engaging 90-minute battle of wits… Both Ravensbergen and Hauff give strong performances, taking the volleys of accusations and denials to heart-rending extremes.”
NNNNNOW Magazine

“While Johnny, played with heart and spirit by Lisa C Ravensbergen, is the manic, twisted, charming scene-stealer of the show, King, played by Thomas Hauff has a subtle complexity that makes him more than just a stereotypical predator.” – Mooney on Theatre

“a gripping play… the subject would be overwhelmingly bleak if it weren’t for [Taylor’s] occasional rays of comedy” – Torontoist

“Lisa C. Ravensbergen gives an electric performance” – Scene Changes

“This play is not only educational in its premise, but also moving with its dialogue and performances.” – theXTRAmile

AUDIENCE REACTIONS

“profound, disturbing & thought-provoking” – b current
“Great acting, great writing and great direction!
Don’t miss this beautiful show” – Theatre Smith-Gilmour
“A must-see!” – Judith Schuyler

PREVIEWS

“Sometimes humour is an entry point into conflict that eases people into that world and then surprises them with the things they are able to confront.” – Lisa C. Ravensbergen talks to NOW Magazine

“What surprised me the most was that I could still find some humour in the story, albeit dark humour. But to me, that most exemplifies the Native community, humour and tragedy walking side-by-side.”
– Drew Hayden Taylor talks to She Does the City


Drew Hayden Taylor

Drew Hayden Taylor is an award-winning playwright, novelist, scriptwriter and journalist from the Curve Lake First Nation. Some of Drew’s 26 books have been translated into Spanish, Slovenian, Italian and German. His plays have seen over 80 productions. His future projects include a book of Native science fiction short stories, a screenplay based on his highly successful comedy play The Berlin Blues, and the publication of Me Artsy, the continuation in his exploration of various aspects of Native culture that began with Me Funny and Me Sexy. And finding the time to do the laundry.


Firehall Arts Centre

Firehall Arts Centre is based in Vancouver, British Columbia, and is located in a heritage fire station built in 1906, the Firehall Arts Centre produces a season of eclectic theatre, dance and interdisciplinary performances and acts as a host to visual arts exhibitions in its intimate gallery/lounge. Each year the Centre hosts over two hundred performances.  Learn more about Firehall Arts Centre


 

Read Press Release

Production Photography by akipari
Poster Photography by Bronwen Sharp

Designs by OX Agency

Stitch

by Cliff Cardinal

A Culture Storm Production
presented by Native Earth Performing Arts

June 3-14, 2015

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Directed by Jovanni Sy
Production Design by Andy Moro
Composer Luca Caruso-Moro
Stage Manager Jennifer Stobart

Starring Georgina Beaty 

Kylie Grandview, single mom, and one of the nameless faces that blip across the screens of internet pornography is seduced by her dreams of starring in a main stream movie. In a twisted, turning series of self-sabotaging decisions ultimately resulting in the loss of her child, Stitch is Kylie’s last ditch effort to tell the truth about what happened to her face.

“…sometimes in order to keep what you have,
you have to sell it away.”

Thanks to our Supporters Canada Council for the Arts, Ontario Arts Council, Toronto Arts Council, and the Centre for Indigenous Theatre

Audience Advisory: Mature content.

Message from Native Earth, Culture Storm & Cliff Cardinal

TICKETS

Tickets $15-$25, available online.
Tuesday-Saturday at 8pm; Sunday at 2pm.
Pay-What-You Can (PWYC) available for Tuesday performances.
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.

PREVIEWS

“…the audience will find it humorous and terrifying all at the same time” – Metro News

“… thought-provoking, as well as a very strong piece of writing.”
Hye’s Musings

REVIEWS

NNNN – Cliff Cardinal’s dark and ultimately unnerving comedy Stitch… A hit at SummerWorks 2011, the play still packs a gut-wrenching punch.” – Jon Kaplan, NOW Magazine

stars“…funny, shocking, and sad” – Martin Morrow, –  Torontoist

Stitch is a taut, sensitively directed production, beautifully performed by Georgina Beaty.” – Jeniva Berger, Scene Changes

“brilliant piece of theatre… will have you cringing, crying and laughing all at once. Not for the faint of heart, but very worth seeing.” – Michael Piscitelli, Ontario Arts Review

“The show is terrifying, deeply disturbing, challenging and yes, at times, very funny.” – Celeste Sansregret, Sprockets and Greasepaint


 

 Cliff Cardinal

Cliff Cardinal made his theatre debut with Native Earth in Freeman’s Wake by Yvette Nolan in the ’05 Rhubarb Festival. Stitch debuted in SummerWorks 2011, winning Theatre Passe Muraille’s Emerging Artist Award. Huff, won the Buddies in Bad Times Vanguard Award for Risk and Innovation at SummerWorks 2012, and closed the studio season at the National Arts Centre in May of this year. Maria Gets A New Life, debuted at SummerWorks 2013. “This captivating tale of an off-grid mother solidifies Cardinal as one of the most talented and intriguing writers in the country.” – NOW Magazine.


Jovanni Sy

Jovanni assumed the position of Artistic Director of the Gateway Theatre in May 2012. He was born in Manila and raised in Toronto where he was based professionally for twenty years as an actor, playwright, director, and dramaturg. For six seasons, he was the Artistic Director of Cahoots Theatre Projects in Toronto. Under his tenure, Cahoots produced new works by Anosh Irani, Ahmed Ghazali, Marjorie Chan, Guillermo Verdecchia, Marcus Youssef, and Camyar Chai. In 2010, Jovanni was the Playwright-in-Residence at the Shaw Festival, and Jovanni wrote and performed his one-man play A Taste of Empire which was nominated for two Dora Mavor Moore Awards including Outstanding New Play. In August 2011, he directed Cliff Cardinal’s award-winning play Stitch for SummerWorks.


Culture Storm

Culture Storm is an organization and network that supports artists in visual arts, performance, music, film and theatre for artistic visioning, production, touring, grant writing, workshops and audience development. They also work with small artistic organizations to broaden and diversify scope of programming, audience outreach, press, publicity and partnerships. Culture Storm works with a select group of artists whose work focuses on social justice and cultural issues presenting creative work to audiences to engage and inspire meaningful dialogues. The artists they work with play an important role in arts and culture by fostering social, political and community engagement and change. Learn more about Culture Storm


Read the Press Release

Production Photography by akipari
Season Photography done by Bronwen Sharp

Designs by OX Agency

Sable Sweetgrass: “You’ll Laugh and You’ll Cry”

True to the heart of the festival, the final evening of Weesageechak Begins to Dance 27 will include a mix of new works by established and emerging artists. Alongside readings from Drew Hayden Taylor and Kenneth T. Williams will be a play by emerging playwright Sable Sweetgrass, from the Kainai Nation in Southern Alberta.

A graduate from the University of Calgary, Sable Sweetgrass is taking a break from the Institute of American Indian Arts where she is currently completing her Masters of Fine Arts to participate in the festival. “Weesageechak is innovative, a place that is known for nurturing new artists and I’m still learning about writing for performance. I love that there is a place for emerging and seasoned artists to work together.”

Sweetgrass is a first place winner of the Aboriginal Arts & Stories competition for her 2006 short story, Maternal Ties. Continuing her focus on family, Sweetgrass brings to the festival Awowakii, a play, she explains, portraying the modern realities and traditional roles of two spirit peoples, including their role in adopting orphaned children.

“…it’s a story about family and the unique and diverse families that exist today”

“It’s a play that looks at the long term, generational effects alcohol has had on Native people and families, something that we are all to familiar with. Most of all it’s a story about family and the unique and diverse families that exist today, have always existed. I am a woman who has experienced gender transition. I am also a parent, so the themes in this story are very important to me.”

According to Sweetgrass, on this final night of the festival, audiences can expect a full range of emotion. “You’ll laugh and you’ll cry. You’ll get to meet some of the most dynamic Indigenous artists from around the world.”

Following Weesageechak, Sweetgrass will return to complete her MFA in creative writing, and focus on her next script, which explores the museum culture, repatriation and sexual assault by an Elder.

To learn more about Sable and her play Awowakii, read her article on Muskrat Magazine.


Some bits and bobs about Sable Sweetgrass

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received as a writer?
Don’t wait around for inspiration, you just have to write
and learn to appreciate the writing process.

What are you reading right now?
I’m re-reading all of Louise Erdrich’s books as well as
Blood Sport by my friend and mentor Eden Robinson.

Where is your favorite place to be?
With my son Zack, my family and friends.

Who is one of your heroes?
My mama.

Thanks Sable!


Read about the other playwrights featured on closing night:
Drew Hayden Taylor and Kenneth T. Williams

You can catch Sable Sweetgrass’s Awowakii on
Saturday, Nov 22nd @ 7:30pm.
More About Tickets

Justin Many Fingers: “Close to Home”

The penultimate night of Weesageechak Begins to Dance 27 puts the spotlight on dancers, both emerging and established. Dancing in this spotlight is three-time festival participant Justin Many Fingers, a singer, actor and dancer from Lavern Kainai Blackfoot reserve, in Southern Alberta.

Justin ManyFingers 2Graduate of the Centre for Indigenous Theatre, Justin Many Fingers also attended the Banff Centre’s Indigenous Dance Residence, Toronto Dance Theatre’s Summer Intensive and Kahawi Dance Theatre’s training program. Many Fingers returns to the festival time and again because he believes Weesageechak is one of the few festivals that inspire Native works in dance or theatre in Canada.

“Native Earth hounds in on the new work that will become additions to the Native cannon. They give the tools for artists to show or create their ideas, and help give a strong foundation to new works so that it can one day be fully produced.”

This year, Many Fingers is collaborating with Brian Solomon on a new, very personal movement piece, called What’s Left of Us. “Growing up in life, my left hand was never discussed or mentioned, it just was. In my second year at Centre for Indigenous Theatre, I worked on a show with Muriel Miguel and my character was based on my left hand. So many things came up as I was artistically exploring, that never left when the show ended,” says Many Fingers.

So many things came up as I was artistically exploring, that never left when the show ended.

The story returned to Many Fingers during his time in the Soulpepper Academy, and again a year later. “I was laying in bed and I said ‘Ok Justin, we are going to make a show about our left hand.’ I knew I needed to create this with someone, and I immediately thought of Brian Solomon. He made my time at School of Toronto Dance Theatre a lot easier and less awkward because he found a way to dance with his left hand. The time we have spent so far in the studio rehearsing, leading up to our night in the festival, has been amazing. And the depths we went to in physically and emotionally exploring… I  am very excited to present our first ideas on stage of What’s Left Of Us.

Justin has trained in numerous dance styles with Jock Sotto (American Ballet), Neil Leremia (Black Grace), Santee Smith (Kahawi), as well as Bill Coleman, Penny Couchie, Troy Emery Twigg, Alejandro Ronceria and Amanda Chaboyer. Select credits: Red Romance (dir. Muriel Miguel), Red Moon(dir. Marion de Vries), Coyote City (dir. Rose Stella), Potato Foot (dir. Imelda Villalon).


Some bits and bobs from Justin ManyFingers

Why Weesageechak Begins to Dance?
The work brought in by the artists is so diverse that it shows you a pallet of what’s cooking in the world of Indigenous arts.

What will audiences get out of the festival?
It may be Native but it’s a part of us all,
so come see a story that is close to home.

Thanks Justin!


Read about fellow Dancers:
Santee Smith, Starr Murkanko, & Brian Solomon

You can catch What’s Left of Us on
Friday, Nov 21st @ 7:30pm.
More About Tickets

Starr Muranko: “Telling Fearless Stories”

Native Earth’s annual Weesageechak Begins to Dance 27 is not just about new written work, but also explores new movement pieces. We’re proud to include Starr Muranko, Artistic Associate with Raven Spirit Dance and member of the Dancers of Damelahamid, in this year’s evening dedicated to dance .

Dancer/choreographer and educator, Starr Muranko, of mixed Cree (Moose Cree First Nation), German & French ancestry, has trained, performed and presented her research in Peru, New Zealand, Holland, India, Ghana and the USA. Muranko comes to the festival from Vancouver to share her work in development with Weesageechak audiences.

“Weesageechak is an amazing opportunity to be able to come together as a community and share our stories, celebrate our various artistic expressions and support one another to continue to move forward in our individual and collective work.”

As a part of Weesageechak’s Evening of Dance,  Muranko will be sharing an excerpt of her new work being developed, titled Spine of the Mother, with dancers Tasha Faye Evans and Andrea Patriau. The piece is a collaboration between artists in Canada and Peru based on a teaching shared by the Elders in South America that the Andes mountain range is the Spine of Mother Earth and connects us as people from the base in Argentina all the way up to the tip in Alaska.

“…this energy is activated through breath, impulse and a kinetic chain both in our own bodies as woman and within Mother Earth.”

“When I first heard this teaching many years ago it stirred something in me and has been living inside every since. We are exploring how this energy is activated through breath, impulse and a kinetic chain both in our own bodies as woman and within Mother Earth. It is a remembering of our connection between the North and the South as Indigenous people and this work-in-progress is a desire to find those connections in a deeper way.”

Bringing this piece to the Aki Studio was an obvious choice. “The festival programs an eclectic mix each year of up and coming artists, new works in progress and seasoned professionals that are telling fearless stories,” says Muranko. “It is a place to come and expand your ideas, challenge your perceptions and take in some of Canada’s greatest art all in once location.”

With the distance between them, Muranko and her collaborators have developed their material through online rehearsals periods via Skype.  After Weesageechak, they will continue this process to further develop the piece, then Muranko will head down to Peru to work with artists there. Audiences can check out the finished work at their premiere in Vancouver at the Dance Centre in the Fall of 2015.


Some bits and bobs about Starr Muranko

What advice would you give to someone who wants to do what you do? To begin. Even if you don’t know how, just start. Surround yourself by mentors, Elders and good people. Ask for help and don’t be afraid to take risks, it will only help you to grow and develop both as an artist and as a person. Don’t be afraid to think big ideas, you have a voice and perspective that is unique to you, that is a gift. Begin.

What’s your favourite dessert?
Definitely any kind of cheesecake :-)

What’s your quote?
“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud
was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”
– Anaïs Nin

Where is your favorite place to be?
Out in nature, sun shining and hearing the ocean.

Thanks Starr!


Read about fellow Dancers:
Santee Smith, Justin ManyFingers, & Brian Solomon

You can catch Starr Muranko’s Spine of the Mother on
Friday, Nov 21st @ 7:30pm.
More About Tickets

Tawata Productions: “Good People, Focus, and Vision”

Weesageechak Begins to Dance 27 marks the return to Native Earth’s annual development festival for the international Indigenous company, Tawata Productions. From Aotearoa New Zealand, co-founders Hone Kouka and Miria George, along with fellow artist Jamie McCaskill, join Algonquin artist Yvette Nolan for an international collaboration.

Hone Kouka
Hone Kouka

Hone Kouka (Ngati Porou, Ngati Raukawa, Ngati Kahungunu) is an acclaimed Maori writer, winner of the Bruce Mason Award and multiple Chapman Tripp Theatre Awards. He and Miria George (Te Arawa, Ngati Awa; Rarotonga, Atiu) founded Tawata Productions in 2004, where they develop and produce new work from Aotearoa New Zealand, presenting a diverse Indigenous vision for the world beyond. He is proud to give Weesageechak audiences the chance to see a “global Indigenous view.”

Miria George
Miria George

George is a poet, and writer for theatre, radio and television, and an award-winning playwright, whose work has been performed at festivals and theatres New Zealand, Australia, Hawai’i, Canada and the United Kingdom. Being a part of a festival with Indigenous artists, and Indigenous stories is what drives her to want to participate in Weesageechak Begins to Dance 27.

Jamie McCaskill
Jamie McCaskill

Joining George and Kouka, is Jamie McCaskill (Ngati Tamatera/Ngati Rangi/Nga Puhi), a graduate from UCOL Theatre School, writer, actor, musician and producer and the recipient of the Bruce Mason Award for NZ Emerging Playwright of the Year 2013. McCaskill was last in Toronto for Planet IndigenUS in 2009 with He Reo Aroha, co-written with George.

For this festival, the three artists are collaborating with Nolan, on a piece called Waka/Ciimaan, which are the Maori and Anishinaabemowin words for canoe. “We recognize that water – wai in Māori, nibi in Anishinaabemowin – is a driving force in both our creation stories and ultimately the connecting link between all of humanity.”

Once the group departs from Weesageechak Begins to Dance 27, they will begin working on independent projects. McCaskill will get right back to work performing in a play and writing about “raw rural men.” Kouka’s feature film Born To Dance recently completed shooting and, next up is his feature Puawai’s Flowers, which is currently in development. Meanwhile George is working tirelessly at completing her latest script, The Vultures. 


Some bits and bobs about
Miri George, Hone Kouka & Jamie McCaskill

Who is one of your favorite writers/playwrights?
MG: Junot Diaz
MK: Hone Tuwhare

Describe your ideal writing environment.
JC: With good people, focus, and vision.

What was your first job in theatre?
MG: As a writer of my own work.
JC: As an actor in Theatre & Education.
MK: Same as Jamie.

What ability would you like to steal from another artist?
MG: I would fly.
JC: I would like to be able to dance.

What are you reading right now?
JC: A Dance with Dragons by George R. R. Martin
MK: A biography on the life of French poet Arthur Rimbaud
MG: The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton

What is your favorite breakfast cereal?
ALL: Weetabix, the national cereal of New Zealand.

Thanks Miri, Hune, & Jamie!


Read about co-creator Yvette Nolan

You can catch Waka/Ciimaan on Thursday, Nov 20th @ 7:30pm.
More About Tickets

Jessica Lea Fleming: “The Power of Forgiveness”

A staple element of Native Earth’s annual Weesageechak Begins to Dance 27 is to introduce audiences to the playwrights participating in Native Earth’s Animikiig Training Program. Another of the four of these emerging playwrights is Métis artist Jessica Lea Fleming, from Penetanguishene, of Wendat and French descent.

Jessica Lea Fleming is an actor, writer, producer, arts manager and improviser based in Toronto. She studied Drama at the University of Guelph, completed the Second City Conservatory Program in 2013, and currently works as the Development Manager for the imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival.

This marks the first time Fleming will be participating in the Weesageechak Begins to Dance festival, and she is proud to be a part of it. “Weesageechak represents everything wonderful about Indigenous theatre: mentorship, community and an insatiable appetite for inspiration.”

She will be sharing her fifth play, Without Icing, the story of an estranged father and daughter who reunite after living difficult lives. “I’ve been thinking about this play for years now, but finally had the guts to start writing it about a year ago,” says Fleming. “It’s about the power of forgiveness.”

“There is something really special and exciting about getting the chance to access a partially completed world.”

About bringing her work to the Weesageechak audiences, Fleming says, “There is something really special and exciting about getting the chance to access a partially completed world. The audience gets to play such a significant role. Unlike in final productions, reactions, feedback and questions shape everything!”

Fleming’s most recent complete play Blue Moon Girls debuted at the 2013 Toronto Fringe Festival where it garnered rave reviews and won Now Magazine’s “Best Ensemble”.  Fleming is currently writing her first feature screenplay (Maison Métisse) and wrapping production on her first short film (you are home).

A Board Member at The Theatre Centre and a contributor at Urban Native Magazine, she would like you to tweet pictures of animals to her: @JessFlamingo


Some bits and bobs about Jessica Lea Fleming

What are you looking forward to this Weesageechak?
Mingling with all the beautiful people of course!

What advice would you give to someone who wants to do what you do? Work with people you respect and be kind and disciplined.

What was your first job in theatre?
A nightmare

What is your profession’s greatest challenge today?
Taking risks in a society that values money more than art.

What’s your favourite dessert?
Chips

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received as a writer?
Actually, in the last week I’ve received three great pieces of advice:
“confront yourself” – Archer Pechawis
“go for truth” – Julia Pileggi
“take your punctuation seriously” – Andrea Romaldi

What are you thinking right before you begin a play?
Listen

The one word your best friend would use to describe you?
I texted both of them to find out just for you! One said “giving” the other said “enthusiastic, engaged, open-minded and MAD HOT”.
I really thought they were going to say bossy.

Who would you most like to have dinner with?
My sweet hunk of a man.

Thanks Jessica!


Read about fellow Animikiig Playwrights:
Cheyenne Scott &  Darla Contois

You can catch Jessica Lea Fleming’s Without Icing on
Wednesday, Nov 19th @ 7:30pm.
More About Tickets

Cheyenne Scott: “Reconnecting to The Community”

A staple element of Native Earth’s annual Weesageechak Begins to Dance 27 is to introduce audiences to the playwrights participating in Native Earth’s Animikiig Training Program. This year four of these emerging playwrights will share their work. One of which is Coast Salish First Nation and a multidisciplinary artist, Cheyenne Scott.

Graduate of the Randolph Academy for the Performing Arts, and winner of a Dora Award for Outstanding Ensemble, Cheyenne Scott joined Native Earth’s Animikiig Training Program in January of this year.

Scott is bringing Weesageechak audiences her play, Uprooted, about an unexpected pregnancy that causes a family to reconsider their life choices in preparation for the next generation.

Scott says Uprooted is about reconnecting to the community, to the earth, and to family. “I wanted to examine contemporary Canadian Indigenous issues and give voice to youth. I wanted to express that being Indigenous is far more complex than living on reserve or poverty or activism. There are full bloods, half bloods, mixed bloods, Métis, on reserve, off reserve, a variety of nations each with their own teachings. I wanted to tell stories that spoke to urban Indigenous people. How the culture and teachings can exist and still affect our lives today.”

“an accessible way for me to dive in and research and discover and celebrate my culture”

Working with Director/Dramaturg Brian Quirt, Scott is using the Weesageechak festival process to share something very personal.  “I was separated from my Indigenous family and art is an accessible way for me to dive in and research and discover and celebrate my culture and then take the opportunity to express what I have learned and how it is relevant to me today.”

Scott performed with Native Earth for the first time this year at SpringWorks alongside Justin ManyFingers in Savage, a made-to-order script directed by Jessica Carmichael. Scott is also a winner of the Best New Media Award for her interactive audio/visual piece “UHKE” at the imagineNATIVE Film and Media Arts Festival.


Some bits and bobs about Cheyenne Scott

What advice would you give to someone who wants to do what you do? Having friends and hobbies outside of theatre and the arts is extremely necessary. Life experience and diversity is not only good for mental health but for creating dynamic characters.
Otherwise, it’s easy to get trapped creating characters that are representations of other theatre characters.

What comes to mind when you think of Weesageechak?
Community

What’s next?
Working towards first documentary short with mentorship from Shane Belcourt and Michelle Latimer.

Thanks Cheyenne!


Read about fellow Animikiig Playwrights:
Jessica Lea Fleming &  Darla Contois

You can catch Cheyenne Scott’s Uprooted on
Wednesday, Nov 19th @ 7:30pm.
More About Tickets

Dénommé-Welch & Magowan: “The Best Place to Find Tricks(ters)”

Native Earth’s annual Weesageechak Begins to Dance 27 is a place where artists from all stages of their career bring their new work to be heard, often for the first time. Returning to the festival are Dora-nominated co-founders of An Indie(n) Rights Reserve, Spy Dénommé-Welch and Catherine Magowan.

Spy Dénommé-Welch

Multi-disciplinary artist Spy Dénommé-Welch (Algonquin), and bassoonist and composer Catherine Magowan co-created the Dora-nominated opera, Giiwedin, which debuted in a co-production with Native Earth in 2010. The pair return to Weesageechak, which they describe as “THE place to see new, upcoming, and established Indigenous theatre creators and performers. You really don’t know what you’re going to get, especially if we’re involved.”

Dénommé-Welch and Magowan will share their new piece, Victorian Secrets, a new sexy cabaret for actors and honky-tonk piano that draws on the aesthetics of silent film, musical theatre, parody and satire. “Weesageechak doesn’t seem to blink at our projects, which can be kinda off-the-wall.”

Catherine Magowan
Catherine Magowan

“The piece started with Spy’s idea to purchase old photos at a shop in Kensington, which would serve as the inspiration for vignettes that explore constructs of sexuality and repression by juxtaposing Victorian and contemporary language and technologies,” Magowan explains.

Magowan has been principal bassoonist with the Sudbury Symphony Orchestra since 2002 and regularly performs across Ontario. Her electric bassoon band, Das Fagott Mannschaft (“the bassoon team” in German) has been making a splash in and around Toronto. Other work for Magowan and Dénommé-Welch includes the composition of shorter works for chamber ensemble, including Deux Poèmes Sur La Formation Des Glaces and Bike Rage, which won the 2013 Baroque Idol composer competition.

“Weesageechak doesn’t seem to blink at our projects, which can be kinda off-the-wall.”

Together, in addition to creating cabarets and operas, Dénommé-Welch and Magowan are two halves of the comedy duo Professor Quack & Grunt, delivering scintillating lectures at poetry festivals and book launches. And next up for the pair is a premiere with the Scarborough Philharmonic Orchestra on January 17, 2015, and a second full-length epic opera they are creating with the support of Ontario Arts Council, Toronto Arts Council, and various musical commissions.


Some bits and bobs about
Spy Dénommé-Welch & Catherine Magowan

Victorian Secrets image

Describe the Weesageechak festival.
SDW/CM: It’s the best place to find Tricks(ters).

What advice would you give to someone
who wants to do what you do?
CM: Marry rich.
SDW: Yeah.
CM: Too bad neither of us fit into that category…
SDW: Yeah…I guess I’ll keep buying lotto tickets?

What’s your favourite dessert?
SDW: Mine is pumpkin pie, with lots of whipped cream on top.
CM: Key lime pie, or any similarly citrus-with-whipped-cream-on-top creation. It’s a theme for us.

What’s your favorite line from a song?
SDW/CM: Blame Canada.

What are you reading right now?
SDW: I just finished [Andrew Rae’s]
Moonhead and the Music Machine
CM: I’ve been stuck on the last Game of Thrones
[by George R.R. Martin] for the past year…

Who would you most like to have dinner with?
SDW/CM: The Trailer Park Boys.
Not the actors, the characters. All of them.

Thanks Spy & Catherine!


You can catch Victorian Secrets on Tuesday, Nov 18th @ 7:30pm.
More About Tickets

Cliff Cardinal: “Stories That Haunt Me”

Native Earth’s annual Weesageechak Begins to Dance 27 is a place where artists from all stages of their career bring their new work to be heard, often for the first time. One such emerging artist whose work has been gaining recognition is Cliff Cardinal, of Cree/Lakota decent.

Cliff Cardinal,  made his theatrical debut with Native Earth in Freeman’s Wake by Yvette Nolan in the ’05 Rhubarb Festival, and has since been performing his own work across the country.

Currently studing playwriting at the National Theatre School of Canada,  Cardinal brings his newest piece romanceship to the Weesageechak festival.

Described as a story about outsiders falling in love, romanceship centers around a telephone fraudster, an anorexic chef, and a transexual crackhead who are hopelessly in love with being hopelessly in love. In what is now Cardinal’s signature dark, humourous style, the play poses the question: what else is there?

“I write stories that haunt me, that grab me and won’t let go,” says Cardinal. “I’m not sure why this story and not some other one.”

“I write stories that haunt me, that grab me and won’t let go”

Cardinal is particularly thrilled to be in the company of esteemed artists Daniel David Moses, Jani Lauzon and, his mother, Tantoo Cardinal, at this year’s festival. This mother and son duo have previously worked together as performers, but this will mark the first time the two will share the stage as fellow playwrights.

Weesageechak Begins to Dance won’t be the only time audiences can see Cardinal’s work this season at Native Earth; Cardinal’s play Stitch, will have its first main stage production in the Aki Studio in June 2015. Stitch debuted in SummerWorks 2011, and went on to win both The Spotlight Award for Performance and Theatre Passe Muraille’s Emerging Artist Award.

Cardinal also recently completed a national tour with his one-man show, Huff, including presentations at The Push International Performing Arts Festival, The Magnetic North Theatre Festival and the Pivot Theatre Festival, and closed the studio season at the National Arts Centre in May of this year. Huff, won the Buddies in Bad Times Vanguard Award for Risk and Innovation at SummerWorks 2012.


Some bits and bobs about Cliff Cardinal

What was your first job in theatre?
I acted in a short play written and directed by Yvette Nolan called Freeman’s Wake. Michaela Washburn got me the job and Lorne Cardinal was in it too. I think it was part of Rhubarb. We had a few rehearsals in the evening and I worked at Starbucks during the day. I played Frank Nadijnikaz. The play opens on a casket with Johnny Cash singing Hurt; and Frank Nadijnikaz concealing a gun. Cool.
Still one of my favorite plays.

If you had to choose three plays as a “Welcome to Canada” gift, what would those plays be?
Scorched, Brothel #9,  and The Rez Sisters

What’s next?
A music project:
Cliff Cardinal and The Skylarks – This Is Not A Mistake.

Thanks Cliff!


You can catch romanceship on Tuesday, Nov 18th @ 7:30pm.
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