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.
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.