Returning to the Aki Studio stage for Weesageechak Begins to Dance 27 is performance artist and two-time Dora Mavor Award nominee Michaela Washburn. Of English, Irish, French and Cree descent, this Métis artist hails from Leduc, Alberta and is now based in Toronto, Ontario.
“Native Earth is a home away from home for me, and it is always an honour to be a part of the birth of new creations, especially those expanding the canon of Indigenous voices in the arts.”
Michaela Washburn is a graduate, on scholarship, from Toronto’s Second City’s Conservatory Program. Washburn has not only graced the Aki Studio stage, but her work has taken her across the country and internationally, including festivals and theatres in Wales, Aruba and throughout the United States.
Washburn has a particular appreciation for those who attend the theatre, “Audiences are precious and as storytellers we need you.” When preparing to go on stage Washburn makes certain to acknowledge them.
“Audiences are precious and as storytellers we need you.”
“Right before going on the deck, I gather up energy from all directions, give thanks for the opportunity, and ask that the exchange between the audience and storytellers be full of breath and inspiration and that it happens in a good way. Then I break the energy in two, toss one out to the audience and one to the stage.”
For this year’s Weesageechak Begins to Dance festival Washburn will work alongside director/dramaturg Yvette Nolan, actor Kieth Barker, and playwright Kenneth T. Williams, and to this she says, “BOO YAH…Ever Lucky Me!!!”
Happy to be home with Native Earth once again, once the Weesageechak festival wraps up Washburn will head North for Yvette Nolan’s The Unplugging (North Road Theatre) in January. Then audiences can catch her with VideoCabaret’s Trudeau and the FLQ in rep with Trudeau and the PQ this spring at Soulpepper.
Some bits and bobs about Michaela Washburn
What advice would you give to someone who wants to do what you do? Instant forgiveness. Be willing to work hard, listen deeply, believe in yourself and never lose the heart of a beginner…always remain curious and teachable.
Who are some of your favorite writers? favorite playwrights?
Darrell Dennis and Richard Wagamese are two of my favorite writers, and some of my favorite playwrights are Tara Beagan, Kevin Loring, Yvette Nolan and Judith Thompson.
Describe your ideal writing environment.
In a cozy cedar log cabin in the woods, with a wood-burning fireplace and swimmable water near by.
What was your first job in theatre?
My first paid theatre gig was Daniel David Moses’ The Dreaming Beauty with De-ba-jeh-mu-jig Theatre Group.
What is your profession’s greatest challenge today?
In Canada, I think one of our biggest struggles is funding for the arts, and our federal government’s lack of support and understanding for the importance of arts and culture in creating and maintaining a healthy society.
What ability would you like to steal from another writer?
The courage and discipline to just show up with the quantity and trust the Creator to help me with the quality.
What’s your favorite line from a book, or play, or favourite lyric from a song? “There’s a difference between being an elder and just being old.” Darrell Dennis, Tales of an Urban Indian.
Who is one of your heroes?
My fiancée. She is one of the bravest people I know.
Who would you most like to have dinner with?
If Michelle Polak isn’t available, then Ellen DeGeneres.
You can catch Michaela Washburn on various nights throughout the festival with a Weesageechak Begins to Dance 27 Festival Pass.
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