Yvette Nolan: “There Will Be Dancing!”

Audiences will certainly be familiar with this next award-winning artist. Joining us in Weesageechak Begins to Dance 27 is Yvette Nolan (Algonquin), renowned playwright, dramaturge and director.

As Former Artistic Director of Native Earth Performing Arts, Nolan has a great history with the Weesageechak Begins to Dance festival.

“Weesageechak is the sneak preview of what will be happening in Indigenous performance in the next few years,” explains Nolan.  “It is the opportunity to see so much Indigenous talent in one place, at one time, inter-generational, multidisciplinary.”

In this year’s festival, Nolan will be working on three projects at three different stages of development.  As dramaturge, Nolan will work with Kenneth T. Williams and his “ink-still-wet” drama In Care, about how we create organisations without imitating the colonizer, how we protect our children, how we heal our communities.

She will also work with emerging playwright Naja Dyrendom Graugaard on her piece Inua, which Dyrendom Graugaard wrote as part of her Masters at York. Dyrendom Graugaard has not yet had the opportunity to see this work “on its feet”, but with the support of Nolan, the Weesageechak festival and its company of artists, Dyrendom Graugaard will get just that.

“We have been dreaming together for a few years,” says Yvette. “There will be dancing!”

As a creator at this year’s festival, Nolan will be working with the Māori and Pacific Island (New Zealand) artists of Tawata Productions on a project called Waka/Ciimaan. Waka and Ciimaan are the Māori and Anishinaabemowin words for “canoe” and this piece will explore water as a driving force in both creation stories and ultimately the connecting link between all of humanity. “We have been dreaming together for a few years,” says Yvette. “There will be dancing!”

Next up for Nolan will be Falen Johnson’s Salt Baby at the Globe in Regina, for which she is director. In March 2015, Nolan’s play The Unplugging will be co-produced by Native Earth and Factory Theatre. Also this spring, her book Medicine Shows, about Native theatre in Canada, will be published.

Nolan’s plays include BLADE, Job’s Wife, Annie Mae’s Movement, Scattering Jake and The Unplugging. Directing credits include Tombs of the Vanishing Indian, Salt Baby, A Very Polite Genocide, Death of a Chief, Tales of An Urban Indian, The Unnatural and Accidental Women, Annie Mae’s Movement (Native Earth), The Ecstasy of Rita Joe (WCTC/National Arts Centre), The Only Good Indian…, The Triple Truth (Turtle Gals).


Some bits and bobs about Yvette Nolan

What was your first job in theatre?
I am a theatre rat. I have hung lights, built props, stage managed dance, built sound tapes (on reel-to-reel, yet), laid dance floor, written program copy, played the dead mother in LOOT, coordinated costumes, ran a theatre company…

What’s your favourite dessert?
Cheese. A cheese plate.
Three kinds: a soft, a blue and a hard.

What’s your favorite line from a play?
“I don’t think writers are sacred, but words are…if you get the right ones in the right order, you can nudge the world a little…”
Henry in Tom Stoppard’s The Real Thing

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received as a writer?
You don’t have to do it all at once. Just write for forty-five minutes.

Who are some of your favorite writers? favorite playwrights? Margaret Atwood, Judith Thompson, Joseph Boyden, Michael Crummey, Miriam Toews, Marie Clements.

If you had to choose three books as a “Welcome to Canada” gift, what would those books be?  A Geography of Blood by Candace Savage, The Inconvenient Indian by Thomas King, The Book of Jessica by Maria Campbell and Linda Griffiths.

What are you reading right now?
The most recent New Yorker.

What are you thinking right before you begin a play?
I wonder if I should do the dishes.

Thanks Yvette!


You can catch Waka/Ciimaan on Thursday, Nov 20th @ 7:30pm with a Weesageechak Begins to Dance 27 Festival Pass.
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