Darla Contois: “It’s Time to Listen”

We are incredibly honoured to have a such an incredibly talented line-up for Weesageechak Begins to Dance 27.  This eleven-day festival will bring audiences work from Indigenous playwrights from across the globe.

Recent graduate of the Centre for Indigenous Theatre, and current member of the Animikiig Training Program, Native Earth’s is excited to introduce emerging Cree playwright Darla Contois to Weesageechak audiences.

“I’ve been attending Weesageechak Begins to Dance since I first moved to Toronto in 2011,” says Contois. “I remember the first reading I ever saw was Cliff Cardinal’s Huff. It was that captivating performance that’s brought me back every single year to see new works and I’m honored to find myself up on NEPA’s stage.”

Contois will be sharing her debut play, White Man’s Indian, which she describes as “a very personal piece” about “a young woman from the reserve trying to make her way in a dominantly white society.” Contois further explains that the protagonist is “not only dealing with racism but her own issues of sexually repressed memories that force her to re-think everything that she is: Native.”

“Intelligent, honest, funny, and touching – with dark personal truths.” – Ed Roy (Dramaturg)

Darla Contois is from Grand Rapids Cree Nation in Manitoba. She studied theatre at Manitoba Theatre for Young People, University of Manitoba, and is an esteemed graduate of a three-year professional training program at the Centre for Indigenous Theatre. Darla has appeared most recently in Only Drunks and Children Tell the Truth (Dir: Herbie Barnes, CIT/Helen Gardiner Phelan Playhouse) and White Buffalo Calf Woman (Dir: Jim Warren, CIT/Helen Gardiner Phelan Playhouse).

Some bits and bobs about Darla Contois

What advice would you give to someone who wants to write?
Be brutally honest with yourself and with your audience, I promise they’ll love you for it. When you feel stuck sometimes the answer is the simple next step no matter how much you try to ignore it.

Describe your ideal writing environment.
A quiet place I can sort through my thoughts and read over things again and again. I’m a bit of a perfectionist.

What was your first job in theatre?
I got really lucky. I was apart of Columpa Bobb’s Aboriginal Arts program in Winnipeg and we did an improvisation class as a part of our training. As a class we were hired to do improv based on direction we received from a director and a writer, helping them to discover the next phase of their script. I got paid $50.00 per session and it was my first paid acting gig. I was 16 at the time.

What’s your favorite line from a book, or play, or favourite lyric from a song? My favourite line from a book is from Andrew Davidsons ‘The Gargoyle’: “Accidents ambush the unsuspecting, often violently, just like love.”

Why Weesageechak Begins to Dance?
Weesageechak is the only festival of its kind in Toronto featuring Indigenous emerging playwrights. When so many voices of the past have been silenced, it’s time to listen and Weesageechak provides this opportunity.

Thanks Darla!

You can catch White Man’s Indian on Wednesday, November 19th @ 7:30pm, a part of the Animikiig Emerging Artists’ Evening with a Weesageechak Begins to Dance 27 Festival Pass. More About Tickets