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  • Kim Senklip Harvey

The western confront.


How do we interact, with Indigenous Theatre.

I recently had a very moving experience with a 2 day workshop with my new show, Kamloopa. To describe what that experience was like - we gonna have to start a little bit before that.

My relationship with theatre is, to say it simply - complicated. I am trained in a Western form and my approach historically has been very Eurocentric. As an Indigenous woman - my lens has been through what feels like a very foreign methodology.

As a younger artist I didn’t have the vernacular, experience and decolonial capacity to say - I’ve been doing it wrong, very, very wrong. And I’m saying here and now - I’ve been doing it very very wrong, inauthentic and lacking the integrity my Indigenous work needs. It’s been a career of trying to encase my work in a western model, which is a part of me but it’s not all of me, it hasn’t been truthful.

A theory I’ve been recently calling “the precenium approach” is what a lot of my career has been full of, taking a play, traditionally presented on the page, and using western approaches and models to execute it. Technical workshops focused just on the script, objective finding, which leads to a staging that is virtually a series of tableau making, engaging with patrons as siloed sector and a model with a matra that states “the show must go on.” For me, and what I believe my Indigenous practice is - this approach undermines what the act of holding story is.

Which is why I started reclaiming my ancestral practice of telling stories - the colonial understanding - writing plays and directing them. For me, story is ceremony - it’s a spiritual practice, one that is for the community: the transformational aspect lives in the ceremony. Story was used to engage the community with a value that we needed to engage with, reminded of, remembered and re-embodied.

The right relations | the 7 Grandmother teachings are becoming the foundation for how I work, they are my framework: Trust, Humility, Respect, Courage, Wisdom, Honesty and Love. I look at them daily and have been writing them down every morning.

Putting the people at the center of the circle, people not patrons, people not actors, people not passive participants. Holding space for people around the fire, active participants where we all bear witness to the story and centering the act of what it means for community to hold space around values and ideas.

What does it really mean. What does it mean. What does it mean.

I’m not sure, there’s been no space in my career, before my reclamation to explore this - but that changes, now, it already has - with Kamloopa - I was blown away and humbled by the power of what happens when Indigenous women are presenced into a room and are finally allowed to be their full selves.

It was all the Grandmother teachings with all our Grandmothers.

I have so many questions and I'm jazzed to spend time investigating, pushing the form, evolving the method in service of the people and story - this gets me so excited.

Stay tuned for opportunities as community members to help shape the process and engage with story - this is about you, us - together. In partnership with the Cultch we will be holding community of practices to share more about this journey, its impact on story and investigate how we approach Indigenous Theatre.

In love, respect and humility - and forever with the Ancestors.


© 2023 by EK. All rights reserved.