Tag Archives: artist feature

Frances Koncan:

“Art Isn’t Limited to Traditional Practices”

Following a successful production of zahgidiwin/love featured in last year’s Weesageechak, Frances Koncan returns once again for her second year. “Weesageechak is one of the few places dedicated to amplifying Indigenous voices and perspectives and that allows artists to explore issues directly relevant to our communities and experience.”

The Anishinaabe writer and director, and the recent winner of 2017 Winnipeg Arts Council RBC On the Rise award, Koncan brings her latest work Riot Resist Revolt Repeat to Aki Studio.

Photo credit: franceskoncan.com.

Inspired by recent events concerning pipelines and their environmental impact, Koncan aims to highlight the relationship between mental health and environmental health. Riot Resist Revolt Repeat follows a young Indigenous woman struggling with mental illness in her search for her missing sister in a world of scarcity and borders. With a similar dystopian tone and a sense of humour as zahgidiwin/love, the play questions established colonial ideas and concepts, including colonial treatments of mental illness of Indigenous peoples that perpetuate cycles of trauma. 

Catch Frances Koncan’s riveting new work Riot Resist Revolt Repeat on Friday, November 17th.


More from Frances Koncan

What is your most memorable performance?
I recently read a 5-minute erotic fanfiction piece inspired by “Are You Afraid Of The Dark?”. I honestly thought it went a little too well.

Where do you find your inspiration for your creative work?
Everywhere! Usually in people and places that make me angry. Often in unexpected places, like 3 AM YouTube searches for “Brad Renfro Conspiracy Theory” that leads to something magical.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
Fail big. Fail up.

What does Indigenous art mean to you?
I believe Indigenous art isn’t limited to traditional practices, but rather encompasses any medium and form that includes in some capacity an intersectional perspective provided by an artist that lives the Indigenous experience, whatever that experience encapsulates.

What is coming up next for you?
I’ll be in Montreal for infinitetheatre’s playwrights Unit, then Vancouver for Playwright Theatre Centre’s WrightSpace.


See France Koncan’s Riot Resist Revolt Repeat on
Friday, November 17th @ 7:30pm
BUY TICKETS

Kenneth T. Williams: “Challenge Your Mythology”

Weesageechak 30 is excited to have award-winning Cree playwright and former Native Earth Playwright-in-Residence, Kenneth T. Williams for this year’s festival. Following his 2014 reading of In Care at W27,  Williams returns with his latest work-in-progress, The Whale Killer.

The Whale Killer is inspired by a 2001 shooting of an RCMP officer in Cape Dorset during Williams’ time as a reporter for APTN National News. “There were a lot of unanswered questions about the murder. However, [The Whale Killer] is not my version of the events. It was a starting point and now doesn’t resemble anything that happened in the real event.”

“Because first and foremost, Indigenous people are my audience…I need to hear their responses first, they are who ground my work.”

Working with Artistic Director of Theatre Network (Edmonton, Alberta), Bradley Moss as dramaturge, Williams believes Weesageechak is the next step for The Whale Killer‘s evolution.

“First and foremost, Indigenous people are my audience. There is no other opportunity out there that allows me to present a play in progress to Indigenous theatre professionals. I need to hear their responses first, they are who ground my work.”

Williams hopes the workshop preview will capture everyone’s anticipation for The Whale Killer‘s full production. He also hopes to continue provoking discussions around issues that are important to the Indigenous community while doing quality work of which we can all be proud.

You can follow Williams on Twitter @feralplaywright for tweets about drama, Indigenous peoples and climate change. Make sure to catch The Whale Killer on Friday, November 17th!


More from Kenneth T. Williams

Where do you find your inspiration for your creative work?
Right now, a lot of my work comes from my years as a journalist. There were a lot of stories that I couldn’t tell, or I couldn’t tell as completely as I could, so now I re-examine them through the lens of a playwright.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
All plays can be shorter.

Do you have any advice for Indigenous creators just coming onto the scene?
Challenge your own mythology.

Who is your role model? How do they inspire you?
My great-grandparents, John and Ethel Blind. They were hard working, tough and very loving people. They are my roots. They are my way forward.

What are your thoughts on addressing political topics through Indigenous art?
All Indigenous art is political. The history of this country trying to erase us means that all art and Indigenous expression is an act of resistance.

What does Indigenous art mean to you?
Art created by Indigenous peoples is Indigenous art.

What is coming up next for you?
Café Daughter will be presented in Victoria in the spring. I was just hired as an assistant professor in the Department of Drama at the University of Alberta, so that’s keeping me extremely busy.


See Kenneth T. William’s Whale Killer on
Friday, November 17th @ 7:30pm
BUY TICKETS

Henrietta Baird: “Without Our Art, We have nothing”

We’re thrilled to host Australia’s Moogahlin Performing Arts for a second year at Weesageechak Begins to Dance, this year featuring Kuku Yalanji/Yidinji playwright Henrietta Baird‘s work The Weekend. 

“Being an Aboriginal woman from a different country, I think [Weesageechak] is a great opportunity to present my script. It’s a festival where all Indigenous artists can be inspired and share our culture and our stories. A place to learn to be strong in our views as artists and what we believe in.”

The Weekend shares an intimate story of Baird and her experiences as a young mother trekking through a world of public housing, drug dealing, and threats of losing her children.

“I want the audience to walk away with a strong emotional effect, to know where you come from and what you believe in.”

“I want the audience to walk away with a strong emotional effect, to know where you come from and what you believe in.” Through this piece, Baird reminds us that whatever life throws at you, however complicated it may be, just hang in there. “Your situation will change, so keep going and never give up. You can be the inspiration.”

Taking inspiration from her mother, grandmothers, aunties and other strong women, powerful resilient women are main characters to Baird’s stories. “Telling me stories, showing my places, and teaching me about my culture, without these women, I probably wouldn’t be who I am today.”

Make sure to catch The Weekend on Thursday, November 16th!


More from Henrietta Baird

What piece are you looking forward to seeing at W30?
I’m not sure at the moment but I want to see as much possible.

Where do you find your inspiration for your creative work?
Myself I believe that I have a certain way of telling stories and this is just the start so I would love to be a part of this festival so that I can be inspired from other Indigenous artists and storytellers.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
Keep writing.

Do you have any advice for Indigenous creators just coming onto the scene?
Yes, keep following your dreams. Never give up. Try to be a part of many performances. See as many shows as possible. Everyone is an inspiration to be sponge. Look at what you can bring to the table as you are also the inspiration for others.

What are your thoughts on addressing political topics through Indigenous art?
Political topics being addressed through Indigenous art is a great way to get people to understand our views.

What does Indigenous art mean to you?
A way to connect to others and tell show them who we are and tell our stories. Without our Art, we have nothing. If we lose our Art – stories, songs, art works, dances, we lost who we are. That’s why it’s important to keep it going.

What is coming up next for you?
I will be performing with a group in Cairns in December. I will be working with kids and choreographing a work looking at using fire and hopefully collaborating with other Indigenous artists from Canada.


See Henrietta Baird’s The Weekend on
Friday, November 16th @ 7:30pm
BUY TICKETS