The Badass Women of Kamloopa
I'm currently on Toquaht territory doing some deep work on this Indigenous theatre methodology, specifically for my next show Kamloopa. Kamloopa is a story about transformation and it's about being vulnerable and courageous to honour who we really are. It is a ceremony that invites all of our ancestors into the room to help ignite that fire of power inside of us that we sometimes forget about or are too scared to bear witness to.
Kamloopa is Indigenous theatre, it is not Canadian theatre, so I'm investigating what that means. Indigenous theatre has evolved into my ceremony, it is medicine and there are protocols that I'm exploring around what that means when I engage with it.
I'm using the ceremonial act of starting a fire as the foundation for the work and being mindful of what we gather for the fire matters. I'm also thinking about whose gathering the materials, how do we ignite it, how big does it need to be, when do we need to leave the fire, how do we support others tending and nourishing the fire and how do we put it out to the very last ember?
Fire's for me, in my culture, is about gathering, it's about ceremony and it's about respecting it. This work is about embedding ceremony and protocol into my artistic practice and being able to share and lead with my Indigeneity at the centre.
An example of how I'm embedding this into the practice is stage managers (currently embracing them as fire igniters and tenders) in this creation process will speak, they will have a voice about all things because I'm a firm believe that the collective knowledge is far greater than the individual and for this ceremony, this gathering, it is very important they have a voice because their perspective of the fire is unique and important knowledge that we all need to listen to.
I said a while back that eventually I won't be using Canadian Theatre terms like "director and playwright" and I want to honour the time and thought this Indigenization process is going to take. I was considering waiting to introduce the tribe until I had found a more solid foundation for this methodological transformation to tell my stories but then I remembered what Kamloopa is and it's about process, it's about being humbled by the scope of a journey and being brave with our actions because it is messy.
I wanted and needed some fiercely talented and powerful women to help ignite, create and tend to this fire and Mother Earth came thruuuuuuu. So I want to share with you the brave women who've agreed to bring this ceremony to life, to create in the dark until we ignite this mother and see how she burns.
So without further ado it is my absolute honour and privilege to share with you the courageous and powerful Matriarchs of Kamloopa!
Fire Holder in the role of Indian Friend Number 1 - Yolanda Bonnell. Yolanda is is a Queer Ojibwe/South Asian performer and creator from Fort William First Nation in Thunder Bay,
ON. Now based in Toronto, and a graduate of Humber College’s Theatre Performance
program, Yolanda was named one of NOW Magazine's Theatre Discoveries and most exciting artists to watch in Summerworks 2016.
I had the privilege of meeting Yolanda at the Banff Playwrights Lab and this woman had me on the floor laughing.
Fire Holder in the role of Mikaya - Kaitlyn Yott. Kaitlyn is a theatre performer and artist of Haida, Japanese and European ancestry and currently residing on the unceded Coast Salish territory.
Kaitlyn plans to dedicate her artistic career to reclamation: reclamation of voices and stories of those who have been systematically oppressed and silenced. She believes that art and storytelling will ignite the conversations and action needed to guide us to a better world.
Fire Holder in the role of Kilawna, Samantha Brown. Sam is Anishinnabe Ojibwe and European descent from northern Ontario.
She was raised in Onaping, Ontario and is now living in Toronto. She is a graduate of the York University Acting Conservatory.
Sam is a wildly talented storyteller that I had the fortune of meeting last year and I cannot wait for the Coast and Interior Salish to get to celebrate her again.
Fire igniter and tender - Dr. Lindsay Lachance.
Lindsay is the Artistic Associate of Indigenous Theatre at The National Arts Centre. She is of Algonquin Anishinabe and settler Canadian ancestry.
Lindsay has a PhD in Theatre from the University of British Columbia and received her Masters in Theatre Theory and Dramaturgy from the University of Ottawa. Lindsay’s dramaturgical practice centers the knowledges, skills and gifts of her collaborators in creating ways of working that celebrate and support each process.
Lindsay and I became quick friends and she's honestly the smartest person I know. Calling her generous is an understatement.
Fire Igniter and tender Jessica Schacht. Jessica is an emerging playwright, director, and dramaturg specializing in the development of new Indigenous work and collaborative practices.
Schacht recently spent two weeks exploring Dramaturgy for Dance at the Banff Centre for Arts & Creativity and completed Playwright Theatre Centre’s Block A program for emerging writers in 2017. She is a graduate of the University of Victoria’s Theatre Program. Born and raised on Vancouver Island, she is proud of her Métis heritage and now calls the Cowichan Valley home.
Fire tender and extinguisher, Laura Evans. Laura is an Adams Lake Band member from the Secwepemc Nation in the BC interior.
She is a Thompson Rivers University alumni, with a Bachelor of Arts, with a Major in Theatre and a Minor in Sociology. Her personal work in the community is focused around community-engaged arts, including serving on the Board of Directors for the Kamloops Arts Council.
I met Laura a few years ago when I had the honour of doing a staged reading of her Multigenerational Language Verbatim Theatre project. I'm elated that she's going to be rooting us and connecting us with the community in Secwepemc territory.
Fire Igniter and Tender Daniela Masellis. Daniela is a Canadian theatre designer and artist. She is a settler of Italian/Irish descent, was born, raised and currently resides in (Edmonton, Alberta) Amiskwaciwâskahikan / ᐊᒥᐢᑲᐧᒋᐋᐧᐢᑲᐦᐃᑲᐣ, in Treaty 6 Territory, on the ancestral lands of many Indigenous Peoples including Cree, Saulteaux, Niisitapi, Métis, and Nakota Sioux.
Daniela has come off Stratford's Breathing Hole and was the mastermind behind the extraordinary set and design of the puppets like the bear Angu'juaq. Murphy showed me a secret video she had of Breathing Hole and I cried immediately. I said to myself I have to work with this person. She's also a dream to work with, I always get excited when we get to chat.
Fire Igniter and tender, the one and only Cris Derksen. 2016 Instrumental Album Juno Nominee Cris Derksen is an Indigenous cellist/composer known for building layers of sound into captivating performances. Originally from Northern Alberta, there is a line of chiefs from North Tall Cree reserve on her father's side and a line and a line of strong Mennonite homesteaders on her mother’s side.
Her music braids the traditional and contemporary in multiple dimensions, weaving her traditional classical training and her Aboriginal ancestry with new school electronics, creating genre defying music. Cris also recently won a Dora for her work with Evalyn Parry on Kiinalik: These Sharp Tools by Buddies in Bad Times and Theatre Passe Muraille. How did I get so freaking fortunate!
Fire Igniter and Tender Samantha McCue. Sam is Anishnaabe from the Chippewas of Georgina Island and Ned’u’ten from Lake Babine First Nation. She grew up on the Musqueam Reserve in Vancouver, BC, and currently lives in Tkaronto.
Sam graduated from York University’s Theatre Production program in 2017. Recent credits include: Aqsarniit (Confederation Centre of the Arts), The Monument (Factory Theatre), Thanks For Giving (Arts Club Theatre Company),Twelfth Night (Canadian Stage).
Look at her credits, I saw her work on Thanks for Giving and was flabbergasted. Now she's got me laughing so hard with her ingenious design work for Kamloopa.
Fire Igniter and Tender Emily Soussana. Emily is a Montreal based set, costume & video designer. She is a graduate of The National Theatre School of Canada's, The University of Ottawa’s Theatre Program and recently spent time as a projection technologist at The Banff Centre.
Her main interests in theatre involve the integration of technology into traditional art forms and the exploration of how visual art/new mediums can help facilitate the telling of a story. Selected past credits include: Bridges/Skydancers - Technical Director, Lighting and Video Designer (Barbara Diabo/The Segal Centre, 2018), Conversion - set & costume designer (Infinitheatre, 2018), & The New Words Festival - set designer for both plays (NTS 2017).
When Emily sent me her prelims I said outloud "oh my god." It was like she was in my brain and sourced the images and feelings I wanted Kamloopa to evoke. She is PowHerful!
Fire Tender, Holder and Extinguisher we've got Maddy Henry. Maddy is from Kamloops, BC and is a graduate of Thompson Rivers University’s Theatre and Performing Arts Program, and feels so lucky to travel the country doing what she loves.
Maddy is very much interested in learning about Indigenous Theatre because there is so much to be communicated about education, reclamation, and reconciliation, and theatre is a brilliant vessel to use to do so.
I'm so very excited to have this exciting young Matriarch be helping take care of this fire. When everyone speaks about her they speak to her talents and I cannot wait to have her voice and presence on Kamloopa.
There are also some incredible women and allies producing and administrating that I also want to take a moment to honour them. Specifically to Dawn Bergstrom at WCT whose been working her butt off to help assemble the tribe. Limelet Dawn.
So this was a big smoke signal but that's cause these artists are giants. This tribe, these Matriarchs have already changed me and I can't wait to kick it with them. I'm pretty much crying right now cause they make me so happy.
With pride, love, humility and deep gratitude,
Kim, Fire Creator.
p.s dance parties in rehearsal, you're invited if you can handle the heat ;)
p.p.s Buy your tickets!
Vancouver single ticket sales are now on sale and you can buy them here. Use promo code KAMLOOPA to get $25 premium A section seats valid for performances from Sept 25 to 30 but get em quick cause the code expires July 31. I also just checked availability and there are no nights that have "excellent" availability, just good and limited so get those tixs!
Sask tickets can be purchased here.
Kamloops tickets on sale soon!