Archive by Author | Soulpepper Theatre Company

Neverland Welcomes New Lost Boys!

Bad Hats Theatre’s Peter Pan is back again this year, and the team is excited to welcome some new (and familiar) faces join the team in Neverland this year. Gabriella AlbinoAnn Paula Bautista, and Emerjade Simms are making their Soulpepper debuts this season, along with Soulpepper Academy Graduate Paolo Santalucia (Bed and Breakfast) as Captain Hook.  The newbies, Ann Paula, Emerjade, and Gabriella, sat down with us to share a bit about their journey into Bad Hats’ Peter Pan!

What was your first introduction to the story of Peter Pan?

Gabriella Albino (Wendy Darling):  My first introduction to Peter Pan was watching the 1953 Disney cartoon at the Ikea childcare drop in play centre while my parents shopped around (probably for pillows or something).

Ann Paula Bautista (Nibs / Cherry): Hook! I loved that movie growing up. 

Emerjade Simms (Slightly / Barbecue): My first introduction was Disney! It has been a long time since I’ve sat down and watched the film, but I remember seeing the animation of the little boy in a green ensemble, and that’s always the first image that pops into my head when Peter Pan is mentioned. I love his goofy smile. 

What is your favourite part to perform in Bad Hats’ adaptation?

GA: The flying! It’s so darn magical. I also just love everyone’s curiosity and sense of play in this adaptation. It’s so joyful to perform and it’s extra good for the soul.

APB: My favourite part of this version is the music. I get to play in a couple tunes as well and I’m super excited about that!

ESMy favourite part is this stellar cast. Being one of the new kids on the block, I was INCREDIBLY intimidated walking into the room on the first day. All those fears melted away within a few seconds. I was met with so much love, unending support and encouragement and so much acceptance. This has helped me thrive so much in putting my best foot forward in telling this awesome story. I love our team.  

To be in this show it seems to be a requirement to have the same sense of magic and wonder as a child – so why do you never want to grow up?

GA: I never want to grow up because wonder and magic makes everything better, and seeing life through those lenses is a really good thing, I think!

APB: I was a lot braver and carefree as a child. I would do cartwheels and basically parkour around the house. I never want to grow up so that I can become a parkour master with a specialty in cartwheels.

ES: I never want to grow up because I like smiling and laughing. As we grow up more and more, we smile and laugh less and less. I want to keep laughing even as I pass over onto the other side. There is something magical about someone laughing with reckless abandon. Babies have no inhibitions, so their laughs make me the happiest. My heart swells every time. I want to keep that magic. 

Lastly, what is a fun fact that you’d like to share about yourself?

GA: I can name and sing every word to every Christmas song ever within 5 seconds of hearing it. I am the Queen of Christmas and I unashamedly start listening to festive music on November 1st.

APB: I am a part of a multi award-winning group called the Tita Collective!

ES: I have never once done a cartwheel in my life. 


Bad Hats Theatre’s Peter Pan begins performances on December 6 and runs through until January 5.  Audiences enjoy free admission on the day of their performance with use of the Cherry Street entrance. Get your tickets now and start planning your family evening out!

Meet the kids performing in A Christmas Carol!

Toronto’s favourite theatre tradition A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, adapted by Michael Shamata returns to the Soulpepper Family Festival in it’s 13th year on stage! Unlike Founding Member Joseph Ziegler who is in his 12th year as Ebenezer Scrooge, the children in the show can be pretty quick to out-grow their roles. This year we wanted to introduce you to the sweetest kids on our stage, Eponine Lee, Kaia Esnard, and Lucien Duncan-Reid.

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Eponine Lee and Cody Black, A Christmas Carol (2017)

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My name is Eponine Lee (EL), I am 12 years old, and I have performed in A Christmas Carol. This is my fourth year, and I started in 2016.


Kaia-Esnard
Kaia Esnard (KE)
, 13 years old. This is my first time performing in A Christmas Carol at Soulpepper.

 

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I’m Lucien Duncan-Reid (LDR).  I’m 7 years old and this is my first time performing in A Christmas Carol.

 

Is there anything that you have learned about acting from the adults in the cast?

EL: I have learned to be more patient, cooperative, and focused from the other adults in the cast by watching them all these things on and offstage.

KE: Yes! I’ve learned tons of things. Some of them are: 1) if you are playing multiple characters make sure you show distinct differences in your accent and mannerisms based on your character and 2) re-read your lines different ways and try to figure out what you are trying to get across and decide what sounds best and is most convincing.

LDR: The adult actors are really good at concentrating, showing lots of feelings and speaking in different accents, so if I watch them, I think can do it too.

Do you want to be an actor when you grow up or do you want to be something else?

EL: I have many dream jobs, but the three that interest me (so far) are being an actor, writer, or WNBA basketball player!

KE: Actually no, my goal is to be a dermatologist or surgeon.

LDR: I want to be three things.  I want to be a magician.  I want to be an actor.  I want to be a basketball player.  But, if I have a basketball tournament and I’m acting, what am I going to do?!

If you could tell Scrooge one thing in real life what would it be?

EL: If I could tell Ebenezer Scrooge one thing in real life, it would be to open up his heart more and donate to important charities.

KE: Go make some friends and have a good time. (This is talking to old Scrooge) You’ve spent a lot of your life alone and working hard to make all this money, you will never feel satisfied if you are not happy or don’t have anyone to share your life with. You should reward yourself for all your hard work before it is too late.

LDR: In real life, I would tell him good job for changing and not being mean to other people, but in the play, I like that he yells at me.

Is there anything you are wishing for this holiday season?

EL: I wish that I could toboggan down a super big hill with my friends and have lots of fun!

KE: Nothing specific. Look forward to relaxing, eating and spending time with friends and family but some spending money would be nice.

LDR: I hope Santa brings me a Nintendo Switch.


A Christmas Carol begins performances on December 6.  Audiences enjoy free admission on the day of their performance with use of the Cherry Street entrance. Get your tickets now and start planning your family evening out!

From the Rehearsal Hall: Photo Diary

In this series of weekly blog posts, Community Outreach Consultant Tyler J. Sloane will provide content, commentary, conversation, or insight into the rehearsal process of Soulpepper’s first Indigenous production, Almighty Voice and His Wife by Daniel David Moses. Check out the photo gallery from their last few days in the rehearsal hall.

 


Almighty Voice and His Wife is on stage now and runs through until November 10. We invite you to join us for our first Indigenous production, and to share in the experience with artists and audiences alike.

From the Rehearsal Hall: Interview with Daniel David Moses

In this series of weekly blog posts, Community Outreach Consultant Tyler J. Sloane will provide content, commentary, conversation, or insight into the rehearsal process of Soulpepper’s first Indigenous production, Almighty Voice and His Wife by Daniel David Moses. Read on for a compelling interview with the playwright.


Tyler J Sloane (TS): What inspired you to write about Almighty Voice?

Daniel David Moses (DDM): I was puzzled by him. I didn’t take history when I was in school, the history teachers in highschool – I didn’t trust them. I grew up on a reserve. I always assumed the way a white man told the story wasn’t going to be right. By the time I came across this historical story, I didn’t have any context, I didn’t know why this happened. I was just puzzled by it, so I decided I tried to figure out a way to make this story to make sense for myself. Y’know it was something that really happened, so you can’t ignore it. 

It took me about 10 years to finally get all the information together. And then of course it was the most miraculous writing process.  Where I got to go to Banff playwrights colony for three weeks, and it just came out day after day. It was waiting to appear on the page. There’s been minor edits and revisions, but it was basically the whole piece – it was amazing. I don’t think I’ve ever had a writing project that’s worked so beautifully, and of course after ten years (the last Toronto production was in 2009 at Native Earth Performing Arts) something had to happen. 

TS: How do you feel this play lives in today’s industry and society?

DDM: Uhm, well I guess I have to take the press at its worth, that it’s already been more than a quarter century and despite having a few productions it’s become a classic. It’s a piece that a lot of the younger generation as theatre artists have had to actually study, so they recognize now the artistic chances I took with it. It’s never been out of print. (Chuckles)

TS: White Girl and Almighty Voice are iconic and real people, yet there’s such a flip in the second act. How does this play speak to indigenous love?

DDM: Once again, I have to go by the reactions to it. I find that a lot of women who have talked to me about the play really like him because he actually listens, and understands what’s going on. Despite having his own issues to deal with. I don’t know if that’s particularly Indigenous love, but that sort of connection between two individuals is intense for them. It’s what’s the first act is about. Them discovering each other despite the things they have to fight against.

TS: What were some surprises for you with this piece?

DDM: It’s been so long. I guess I assumed that the critical audience was more educated about the nature of theatre than they proved themselves to be. There were very few critics who got it the first time out. We actually had duelling reviews posted outside the first production. One critic loved the first act – hated the second act. And the other was bored by the first act but really loved the second act. But none of them thought they (each act) were part of a whole piece. It works on binary energy. It’s about a couple, a relationship between two people, about two types of theatre aesthetics – also that binary between truths and facts that are disputed in history.

TS: So why the two different styles? 

DDM: It just felt right. A lot of the decisions I made I was just following instincts, a few others following a line of thought. I mean, I try to remember the beginning of line of thought where I mention the white face. I think I knew there was sort of travelling medicine shows. There was not only black people in – caricatures of black people (blackface) – and caricatures of real Indians (red face). But there were always these characters from a mainstream point of view (during Daniel’s upbringing) – and only a glimmer of reality coming through them. But basically they were tools for this economy to be growing in North America.

TS: So was being able to do more of the vaudeville and white face in the second act a way of reclamation of information for you?

DDM: It’s also a satire – they’re  showing these people (Hollywood, Vaudeville, etc…)  how silly their ideas were and how mean their attitudes were. I know a lot of people can be very upset by the whole style of the second act. That was part of the thrill for me. It’s both shocking, but really good theatre. It seemed to be true to me. People in an extreme situation react in an extreme way.

TS: On access to arts programming, grants, our storytelling as Indigenous artists – then versus now…

DDM: When I was growing up there was one radio program on CBC that covered Native issues and then it got canceled. Then there was a long time where we weren’t part of the media. Clearly now we’re there every week – there’s a whole section on the CBC covering our stories – even the small ones. Since the TRC came down, people have released ‘obviously we’ve screwed this up and we’ve got figured this out’.

Y’know, I taught at university for 16 years teaching, largely teaching white kids, and I was teaching them native plays. I’m mostly interested in the writing of the play. But of course they kept saying ‘Is this based on History?’ and I said ‘yeah that’s just the way it is’. The Students would get angry they hadn’t been taught these plays in their education. So a lot of them are ‘okay I want to learn this now’. My list of plays was their introduction to a broader understanding of what Canada may be about.

TS: I’d love to know what you’re working on now?

DDM: At the moment I have a play I want to write that’s on hold. There’s more research I want to do. The book I’ve found that will be the last bit of reading I’ll do for it, hasn’t been officially published for it. I’ve read of a review for it back in the spring and immediately felt okay this will work for what I want to do. It’s a Mohawk memoir of the war of 1812. The publisher keeps pushing back the release date, so I’ve got to wait until the second week of October. Originally it was supposed to be out in June. In the meantime I’m writing poetry. It’s been a good year for poetry. I always have a pile of old ideas that I dig up and work on. This year I’ve also had ideas come to me out of the media. As a for instance, I was on the National Geographic website. They had an article about people sighting in California – blue eyed coyotes. Of course they talked about possible mutations, but I was thinking- what that means for coyote stories?

TS: It sounds like you write about what you’re curious about, is that true?

DDM: The best comes out of that impulse. Like anybody I can see a political situation and be offended about it, but I don’t feel like I can write about unless I have a specific question. A lot of people write to say ‘this is screw up’, and I write to say ‘why the hell is this screwed up?’ 

TS: Who inspires you now?

DDM: Inspires me? I was really amazed by Steven Hawking – the physicist – who worked all those years with ALS. I also, met her twice, Ursula Kayla Gwen the science fiction writer. Deeply moral writing, exquisite prose and writes really really amazing worlds. I like stuff like that. I don’t know why I was rereading Angels in America – and thought ‘god this a good play! This is so cool’ I wish someone would do another production, it’d be fun to see it again.

TS: Does your queer identity ever come into your writing?

DDM: I think it’s always there, it always shapes how I perceive things. The new play I’m writing, has two characters, one of them is sort of an observer of the tragedy. He’s the brother of the girl who gets killed, and for no real reason I decided he’s gay. So I mean partly it’s dramatically interest, if he can take a second look at the villian: he’s kind of an evil man but he’s also attractive? ‘Ew that’s gross.’ I’m not going to say anymore about that piece until I have a first draft.

TS: What about this production excites you about Michaela Washburn and JD Smith and their work?

DDM: Oh yeah he’s great! Even though I was living out in Kingston for all those years, and whenever I could see Michaela’s work in Toronto I’d let her know just so I could see it. She’s just a committed artist and she delivers. It’s so neat when the rest of the community realized that. Of course Jani she was the first White Girl all those many years ago. I guess this piece has a history and will be living with this history. 

TS: Final thoughts?

DDM: Looking forward to it. I love being in rehearsal anyways. Of course because this play is so established, I don’t have to do rewrites. I’m excited to watch the process – and I was there last week and we made  two slight edits. No one will notice, but we will. (Chuckles)


Almighty Voice and His Wife begins performances on October 11 and runs through until November 10. We invite you to join us for our first Indigenous production, and to share in the experience with artists and audiences alike.

From the Rehearsal Hall: Where the Designs Meet the Love Story

In this series of weekly blog posts, Community Outreach Consultant Tyler J. Sloane will provide compelling content, commentary, conversation, or insight into the rehearsal process of Soulpepper’s first Indigenous production, Almighty Voice and His Wife by Daniel David Moses. Read on for their second blogpost.


“You collide
With my
Creviced edges
Caressing, forceful
Moving against
And With

Apart
We are Immovable

Together
We move just right
Water and rock”
– Fireweed, by Tunchai Redvers

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Kinoo Arcentales presenting his costume designs next to Ken MacKenzie’s maquette of the set. Photo by Tyler J. Sloane.

Sitting in the rehearsal hall I had many questions about and for the cast and crew of this production. As I always do as an artist and human I enjoy watching other artists compiling all their ideas, inspirations, and thoughts into one giant collaborative work of art.

During the process Jani turned to me and asked, “What does it mean for Almighty Voice and His Wife to be Indigenous led?” Does it look like just a director in leadership? Definitely and Indigenous writer should lead. The whole community must be engaged in leading.

This will be the first time Soulpepper has a play; written by, directed by, performed by, choreographed by, costume designed by, music designed by a critical mass of Indigenous artists.

Very rarely do we get the opportunity to learn about the designers and choreographers that guide and hold the production of the show. We see their aesthetic and inspirations through the set the actors get to play on, coupled with the lights that shift the mood, and the costumes that lay and move across the actor’s bodies. Depending on the show we also get to see the stark movement from the choreography seamless incorporated into the narrative the actors are offering, and paired with delicious and rich music to set the tone of the show.

I wanted to ask our designers and choreographer of Almighty Voice and His Wife with some questions to get a sense of what inspires them and their first thoughts of the Daniel David Moses’s story. Or at the very least share what they’re doing and have previously worked on.

First step – ask our director Jani Lauzon how and why this team of brilliant creatives came together. 

When I am searching for a creative team, the working team is paramount. I need people who compliment each other. Creativity of course is also very important, are they artists who I admire. When it comes to costumes and sound I always make sure that I make every effort to find Indigenous people as that is where the intersection of appropriation will happen the most. I don’t want to explain, I don’t want to fight. I want to know that the history of Indigenous people in this country is understood. As for lighting and set I have admired Jennifer and Ken’s work from afar. I adore their talent. In an institution it also makes sense for me to access designers who are part of the fabric of the organization. They know how things work there, they understand the space and are familiar with the territory. That is a plus for me, as this is my first time working at Soulpepper in my 37 year career.“ 

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Michaela Washburn, James Dallas Smith, and Jani Lauzon. Photo by Tyler J. Sloane.

So I then asked the initial thoughts of the play to some of our designers. When asking Marc Merilainen he put it down in its simplest essence; “It was ‘Wow!’ I believe great art whether it be in music, theatre, fine art and so on – relies on contrast.  It’s this element that make a great story even better.” Which rings true of all Indigenous work and storytelling I’ve so far engaged with, and was validated by our Lighting Designer Jennifer Lennon who said:

My first thought of Almighty Voice and His Wife was how much is contained in this beautiful little play. There is a vastness in it, and a sense of intimate moments that reverberate long after they’ve passed. It’s also a history that, even having grown up on the edge of the prairie myself, I had never heard before. I’m honoured to be entrusted with helping bring it to life.

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Michaela Washburn and James Dallas Smith warming up before rehearsal laying supine with their legs in the air. Photo by Tyler J. Sloane.

During the design presentation Ken MacKenzie explained that he wanted to give the audience a sense of “Lying on the earth” as an invitation for the audience to perceive the world in a different way. Which reminded me of a story Keith Barker once told me about feeling overwhelmed. In the story someone wise in Keith’s life told him to go to the earth and just put his hands on the earth and breathe. It was healing, if not grounding, for him to reconnect with the earth. Each time we get to share our art and stories are further steps in our collective healing. Having Ken lean into this perspective with the set was such a gift. How beautifully precise it is to have the audience bare witness to this story of Almighty Voice and White Girl, a story about love, from this perspective of lying on the earth.

When Ken was researching and getting a feel for the world of the play, he mentioned the exhibit at the Minneapolis Institute of Art: “Hearts of Our People”.

It’s a retrospective of native women artists from across North America. It’s stunning. The beauty and the complexity and the wildly varying perspectives… it’s not easy to describe because it’s so many things. But it’s strong. 

I was struck by the connection between the title of the exhibit, “Hearts of our People: Native Women Artists” and the quote at the beginning of Almighty Voice, “A nation is not defeated till the hearts of it’s women are on the ground”. 

The exhibit doesn’t have anything to say about Almighty Voice or White Girl or Duck Lake, Saskatchewan, but it has a great deal to say about colonialism, resilience, love and beauty.”

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Lust For Light and Hearts of Our People from the Exhibit at the Minneapolis Institute of Art. Photo Tyler J. Sloane.

On my journey into arriving, being, and thriving in Toronto the first person I was informed to connect with was two-spirit artist Waawaate Fobister.  We wouldn’t meet until quite later when I was witness to his performance at the 2-Spirit Cabaret held at Buddies In Bad Times. All this to say, when I asked Marc who inspired him, he mentioned that he “had the great honour & pleasure to work with Waawaatae Fobister.  He is an amazing artist & brilliant storyteller” on Omaagomaan (World Premiere) in Winnipeg.

The music Marc Merilainen brings to Almighty Voice and His Wife is so alive and exciting from what I’ve been privy to hear. Music is so rich in this play, and when I asked which artists inspired Jennifer (lighting designer) she mentioned singer/songwriter Jeremy Dutcher. Yet another brilliant Two-Spirit Indigenous Artist.

I’ve come to believe that healing and community lies deeply within the women and two-spirit artists hearts.

Almighty Voice and His Wife is a production inspired by the matriarchs and two-spirit people, and if there’s anything I’ve learned thus far through this process – it’s this; As best said by our director herself, Jani Lauzon: “Indigenous love is resilience.”

As we move onward through our process , I’ll leave you with some more questions.

What’s your relationship to the earth?
How do you love her?
How do you let her guide you?
How do our stories inform you on how to love,  resist, inspire?


Almighty Voice and His Wife begins performances on October 11 and runs through until November 10. We invite you to join us for our first Indigenous production, and to share in the experience with artists and audiences alike.

From the Rehearsal Hall: What is Indigenous Love?

In this new series of weekly blog posts, Community Outreach Consultant Tyler J. Sloane will provide compelling content, commentary, conversation, or insight into the rehearsal process of Soulpepper’s first Indigenous production, Almighty Voice and His Wife by Daniel David Moses.


Always looked at me like a stranger when you found out i liked something you couldn’t understand.’

 – you are enough; love poems for the end of the world – Smokii Sumac

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Photo of Michaela Washburn and James Dallas Smith in the background, while Brian Solomon – Choreographer and Jani Lauzon go over the first song in Almighty Voice and His Wife. Photo by Tyler J. Sloane.

When I first met Jani Lauzon I saw her in Blood Wedding directed by Soheil Parsa at Buddies In Bad Times Theatre, and she held a strength and passion in her that I hadn’t quite seen in someone before. This all being before I knew her, her work, and her heart. Later I would meet her again during Weesageechak Begins to Dance Festival at Native Earth Performing Arts in 2017. It was there that we had an orientation day with the whole acting company, and we sat in a circle. The day was facilitated to warm us up to each other, and the work we were about to get started on. Within this day we spoke into or listened to how Indigenous Theatre had existed in Toronto over the last few decades.

My name is Tyler J. Sloane. I’m a two-spirit non binary twenty-five-year-old Anishnaabe, Chinese, Irish, and Greek emerging artists. A lot of labels I know, but my story begins by coming to Toronto to learn more about my queerness, my Indigeneity, my Theatre community. It’s through my journey that I began to learn about my Indigeneity through art, and this common question that I continue to seek out and investigate:

What is Indigenous Love? 

What did it look like? 

What does it look like now?

It was during my first year as a part of Weeseegachuk that I learned about Indigenous Theatre making and how it was held in Toronto. Before that I had known very little coming from Alberta as a graduate of a theatre post secondary. In the circle, Jani mentioned how there was a time when few would come and see her theatre or specifically Indigenous theatre she was a part of. Which was both not a surprise and also surprising. 

Growing up through academic theatre, I learned of so many styles, including vaudeville, but no one could speak to Indigenous theatre or storytelling. Which even more so is to say I had a teacher whose father was George Ryga, knowing this was a white man, who had written the play The Ecstasy of Rita Joe. This was the little information I had as an emerging Indigenous writer and theatre creator, and knew very little beyond this.

Jani and others mentioned a story to us in which there was a show at Theatre Passe Muraille and how the piece was staged in the back space. The seats had been sold because of the donors and subscribers, but no one would come and see it. So much so, that the company producing it and performing it went into the streets inviting folks to come see the work, just so the show had an audience to perform to.

During the world premiere of Almighty Voice and His Wife by Daniel Daniel Moses, Jani played the Wife.

I had only learned about this fact when coming on board as Community Outreach Consultant, which was something I didn’t know prior, and was elated to learn. How full circle to see an emerging actor now an established theatre and well-rounded artist directing the very show she helped premiere. I worked previously with Jani on I Call myself Princess last season at Cahoots with Native Earth, and came on board as a high recommendation of hers. This was all very wild.

For those of you who don’t know, I’m very new in my journey with connecting with all my communities. Yet it was the love of theatre and queerness that first brought me to Jani Lauzon. Which is to say that it’s Jani’s love of theatre, love of her community and sharing stories, that brings us all Daniel’s piece now. Especially given the light on the complexities that existed in Soulpepper in the last couple years.

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Jessica Campbell-Maracle – Apprentice Stage Manager, Kinoo Arcentales – Costume Designer, Jani Lauzon, Jennifer Lennon, and Brian Solomon, during the design presentation of Almighty Voice and His Wife. Photo by Tyler J. Sloane.

Remove the pressure
I’m only here for
What you choose to give freely’ 

– you are enough; love poems for the end of the world – Smokii Sumac

After the first marketing meeting I was in with Jani, we sat down over the phone to talk about what was important with this production, and what we wanted to invite everyone into. First, we knew we had to be accountable to the community as best as possible, with the theme from Jani to ‘Find the solution’ in efforts for you our theatre patrons, community, Indigenous peers and relatives to see through the window into our process. Which is to say, we wanted to ensure that each step we took in creating and devising this production was with one that was in a good way. This being our smudging, and ensuring we start each day with smudging. Both ceremonious in starting in building community, in starting projects or journeys, and in the practice of self love to: speak, see, hear, think, feel, and walk in a good way. Second, we wanted to shed light on the complexities of Daniel David Moses’ story, as it holds themes and theatrical devices of Vaudeville about a real life man, and give a path to patrons and audiences as they walked this journey through social media all the way up to opening night and the shows following. Then further, we wanted to ensure everyone we knew could come and engage with this story.

The task: to take skills and connections I had to start building lists of folks who should have access to the story, folks who would enjoy this story, and further folks who already contributed to Indigenous Storytelling.

It was from here that Jani and I jammed on exactly what I would talk about for the blogs. As my job for this production, is Community Outreach Consultant, and one of my tasks are these five blogs to come. 

We jammed about topics and conversations still to be written, but one that I wanted to ensure we talked about was; Indigenous Love. That we have full capacity for love and are beautifully, fiercely, and artistically capable of showing love in story, practice, and community both in our mutual pasts and ever evolving present.

Earlier this year I had the immense privilege of being Paprika Festival’s Indigenous Program Day Producer. The four playwrights: Theresa Cutknife, Cole Forrest, Jesse Wabijig, and Joelle Petters were producing plays of their own, and my task was to supplement the day with a cabaret and panel discussion.

From witnessing these productions from the four playwrights, I saw a common thread that sparked the idea of theme of the day:Indigenous Love. From there I knew I wanted panelists who had moved through the ever changing Theatre Community who were already established Indigenous artists, one such panelist being one of Almighty Voice and His Wife’s cast members; Michaela Washburn. I knew I wanted to bring together Indigenous soloists who could share with and contribute to the conversation of ‘Indigenous Love’. Having both the panelists and soloists gave such breadth to what Indigenous love can look like.

The result was breathtaking. So, if I’m to pull out key themes and ideas from that, that I’m now able to see within this production; it’s this:

  • Our stories as Indigenous and Metis people shared orally, physically, or through writing are examples of Indigenous Love.
  • Indigenous Love looks at ceremonies we engage in; with ourselves or with community.
  • We as people who continue to seek reconciliation, who continue to shed light on our missing and murdered Indigenous women, who fight against pipelines, who continue to fight for our traditions are Indigenous Love.
  • We existed, as artists and storytellers, and speak on love in itself is revolutionary, present, and grounded in the seven generations that came before and the seven that come after.

So join me as I start this journey with Almighty Voice and His Wife: where we see Indigenous designers, writers, performers, and directors pour love and hearts into the work. Digging deep into the complexities that exist in Daniel David Moses’ piece as they collide with western themes and structures and Indigenous lives and love. 

Miigwetch for taking the time to hear my journey, and as I dig into more of this story! Stay tuned for an interview with Daniel David Moses as I discuss how the play lives today in Toronto, interviews and imagery from our designers on how they’re helping to visually paint this story for the performers to accompany, a dive into the complexities of Vaudeville and Indigenous storytelling, and more!

Until then I pose this question through some poetry to both western and Indigenous audiences:

Where the trees meet the water, now buried beneath tall condos and skyscrapers,
Through streets that hold histories and stories and love and pain,
Beyond reserves, stereotypes, expectations, and ideas formed around us,
Walking with, sharing space, whose shoulders we stand on, and mourning the loss of youth and women.

Will you share love with the Indigenous community caretaking this land?
How do you cherish and hold the Indigenous love whispering and singing around you?
What does Indigenous Love look like to you if we never tell you what it looks like?

For my Indigenous communities abroad, displaced, found, and connected;

What will Indigenous Love look like to our descendants?
How do we honour our ancestors love, much like Almighty Voice’s?

 


Almighty Voice and His Wife begins performances on October 11 and runs through until November 10. We invite you to join us for our first Indigenous production, and to share in the experience with artists and audiences alike.

Director Q&A: Jani Lauzon, Almighty Voice and His Wife

Jani Lauzon, the director of Almighty Voice and His Wife by Daniel David Moses, originated the role of White Girl in the World Premiere production. She is back at it again, this time with more knowledge, more experiences, and a new role to step into – the director. We asked Jani a few questions to get a sense of what she is planning. Soulpepper is excited to be sharing this beautiful true story with audiences next month.


Jani Lauzon What do you find most special about being able to direct Almight Voice and His Wife?

Ever since I was an actor in the world premiere I have wanted to continue my artistic relationship with this beautiful piece of writing. At first I was interested in a remount as an actor. Then when I past that possibility, due to my age, I set my sights on directing. That dream has been in my pocket since 2004 so here we go! One more item off my bucket list!

What excites you about Daniel David Moses’ text?

Daniel is a poet. His text is full of imagery that allows the audience and those interpreting the play to fill that space with interpretation. He is economical with his words and shapes an amazing journey that incorporates the intersection of deep love with incredible, senseless loss.

Can you share anything about your approach or your vision for the piece?

We are going to have a blast in the rehearsal hall, that is for sure. It’s a love story, first and foremost. But the story also allows us to use Vaudeville, as was intended in some cases, an opportunity to talk about oppression and racism through song and dance. We will start working on those Vaudeville numbers in the first week, because they will require that kind of precision in their execution.

Luckily I have a great creative team of Indigenous people to help with the song and dance. Marc Merilainen for sound and composition and Brian Solomon for choreography. This of course along with a talented, veteran cast that has the chops to pull it off. Michaela Washburn and James Dallas Smith….can’t ask for anything more.


Almighty Voice and His Wife by Daniel David Moses begins October 11, 2019.