Ty Sloane: “Like all family reunions, it was a wild mess”

You may have caught a glimpse last year, and after another year of development at Animikiig Creators Unit, Ty Sloane presents his latest theatrical piece which has further bloomed and extended. 

Nick Nahwegahbow and Yolanda Bonnell in Liminal (Hummingbird), Weesageechak 32. Photo by Kaytee Dalton

Hummingbird is a compelling story on discovering the truth and complexity of Indigenous identity sparked by a family reunion and the messiness that ensues. Inspired by Ty’s own experience, the story is told through the eyes of Ethan Par who returns to his birthplace of Winnipeg where he reunites with his mom, Sharon, from Edmonton to celebrate the wedding of his godmother, Asha. On his journey to find proof of his Indigenous identity, Ethan encounters a series of events. What starts as a weekend of celebration and searching, soon becomes a weekend of tension and unexpected endings.

Check out Ty Sloane’s Hummingbird on November 20th, alongside Jenn Forgie and Natalie Sappier!


Learn more about Ty Sloane

What inspired you to create the piece?
I was motivated by my friend Daniel Carter after I experienced a weekend in Winnipeg during 2017. My mom and I were going to my godmother’s wedding and at the time I’d recently been in contact with my womb-bearer. So, I decided I wanted to meet them, especially because I’d been on my journey to finding my status as a means of claiming my identity as an Indigenous person. Like all family reunions, it was a wild mess.

How did the piece change/evolve/develop from last year’s presentation at Weesageechak?
The first tipping point was when Yolanda Bonnell mentioned how I represented Indigenous women and also how complex the story was because it was actually mine. Since then, moving away from the source into one that would still touch on complexities of queerness, identity, families, intersectionality and also showing growth has been a challenge. I think the characters have grown more; they are more alive. My biggest challenge is making the protagonist show growth and separating myself from that journey.

Cole Alvis and Brendan Chandler in Liminal (Hummingbird), Weesageechak 32. Photo by Kaytee Dalton

What kind of reaction or effect do you want your piece to have to the audience?
There are so many stories right now about queerness and Indigeneity. But I haven’t seen much representation of a story like mine. I want to add to these ongoing stories to talk about mixed-race identity, the lateral violence I’ve faced from Indigenous folk, and the complexities of having a white, black, and Indigenous mother(-figure) in my life and how that’s shaped me as a person. I’d like the reaction to be one of questions and conversation.

Where do you find your inspiration for your creative work?
Music like Nomvdslvnd, Jeremy Dutcher, Flume, and Khalid. Burlesque & Drag performers like Ravyn Wngz, Brad Puddin, Halal Bae, and Mx.Wolverine. Queer love stories. Theatre artists like Yolanda Bonnell, Saga Collectif, Raf Antonio, Jenn Forgie, Cole Alvis, and Kevin Matthew Wong.

Who is your role model and how do they inspire you?
A year ago I’d say someone like Leelee Davis, Naty Tremblay, and Kent Monkman. A few years ago I’d say Daniel MacIvor, Tanya Ryga, and William Esper. All my life maybe I’d say, my mom in different ways. Right now I feel the most teaching and the most inspiration from the water. That may be weird, but… I always find the most answers, the most peace, the most inspiration, the most therapy in a way from being at the water. People are too complex and human to be a role model anymore.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
My mom said “People come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime.” and when worrying about other people’s decisions to just say, “whatever” in letting go.

What are you craving right now?
I’m craving Indigenous Queer Art Parties, Group Choreo in Burlesque, Theatre shows that have alarming and exciting levels of sex, intersectionality, and bodies similar to my core group, and follow-up action from people who choose to go to marches/strikes.

What is coming up next for you?
I’m part Chinese and have the immense pleasure of being part of the ‘Invisible Footprints’ series where I’m doing a photography project called ‘Fruit Basket’. It’ll be a project that highlights mixed-race East Asian and Southeast Asian folks. Too often I enter ethnic-specific spaces – like Indigenous ones – and have to erase parts of my mix in favor of the critical mass of Indigenous identity in a room. This series explores how mixed-race folk visibly show their ethnicity in their own way as an act of commentary on erasure.

I also want to continue Hummingbird. It’s a trans-national, intersectional story outside of what’s been offered to me, about identities and moms that need love and support.


Wednesday November 20, 2019

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