Hello Cree and Metis Treaty 6 Territory
We've had the World Premiere in Tk'emlúps at WCT and the Coast Salish Premiere at The Cultch and now we're a few days away from having the Cree and Metis Territory Premiere for Kamloopa: An Indigenous Matriarch Story.
It's been an overwhelming journey with some many generous instances and extensions of love and gratitude from people bearing witness to Kamloopa. Some of the feedback has been that people are leaving feeling "joyous, proud, powerful, seen, represented and happy." Some have been so courageous to send me deeply personal moments of their own transformations that have been evoked from witnessing Kamloopa that go beyond what I hoped for with this ceremony.
We've had some community members come 2,3, 4 and sometimes 5 times! I don't think I've ever seen any show 5 times in my life?! The Fire Company has discussed this in depth and we are humbled by the strength of the community that is receiving teachings from the offers we make in the artistic ceremony. We feel successful in embedding the Indigenous theatre approach to storytelling that is theme averse and value-centric. That the feedback has been that we're illuminating aspects of the community that people either not seen, don't see enough and or have pride and excitement to finally see themselves in art.
We are bringing people in that have sometimes never been to a theatre before. In Tk'emlúps some people left after the first Act because they'd never experienced an intermission before, my Ma had to tell them to come back cause there was more. This is an investment that is righting past inequities, if people don't see themselves on stage why would they have come before. My Aunty's got no interest in the Importance of Being Earnest, heck I certainly don't.
We also know that our community has been able to come because of the affordable ticket pricing. WCT and The Cultch had $10 tickets for Indigenous community members which allowed people to come again and again. The Cultch had an almost sold out second week and our houses were generally upwards of 90% sold each night and in a 198 house that ain't too shabby. Companies need to know that your standard ticket prices are not going to allow new, historically marginalized community members to come or even put it in their world view.
So we're happy to announce that during the Cree and Metis run at Persephone we will be offering $15 Community Ticket pricing. 30 tickets each night will be available in a rush style, first come first serve basis, starting at 5:30 when the box office opens self identifying Indigenous community members can grab $15 tickets. Also, the producing companies have said if you are an individual or group that still encounters barriers with this pricing we will get you in there! So come on down and have some big belly laughs with us!!!
I've been learning so much along this journey about holding leadership and decision making positions and igniting the power in the Fire Company. A big part of Indigenous living for me is knowledge sharing and my offer about a teaching that keeps presencing itself is having the confidence in knowing what you know and being respectful and humbled by what you don't.
There have been many instances in this theatrical reform we're innovating where a lot of "experts" have tried to tell me what is best for the ceremony or have settler-splained Canadian theatre systems. Which has been perplexing because even the Fire Company is landing on more questions than definitive answers throughout this process. When I lean into the teachings I sometimes crave a bit more courage for leaders to say, "I'm not sure", "I don't know" or "I've never experienced that before."
For me, with my Artistic Leadership training with NTS and the Banff Cultural Leadership training and a lifetime of watching my Mother and Father run a very successful business, I know this - the most successful and innovative people have the wisdom and confidence to say - I messed up and or I don't know. That instant accountability allows for immediate growth and learning. Also humility is huge for me in an Indigenous way of living, I am humbled by the task, which gives me the confidence to be vulnerable and the power to then be courageous. I'm humbled by the scope of the work that we need to do, the hustle I have to embody.
Question based inquiry and value-centric knowledge sharing and non-hierarchal is my style of leadership. I'm never the smartest person in the room, the collective knowledge always is and I deeply respect that. Deep listening and honest reflection is something I do throughout my day to ensure I'm harnessing the collective wisdom. I feel like that's the due diligence I need to embody to assume leadership roles.
I'm very much trying to elicit these values and ways of working from Settlers to get out of this deliverable, product, industrial revolution, oppressive style of working when they engage with our work because it doesn't feel respectful. I know I have not always been successful in negotiating this new way of relating but I'm confident that it's what we need, a new relationship not a reconciliation of one.
I hope as we all move forward, we put ourselves in uncomfortable positions and be brave enough to truly be humbled by the tasks which will help us create environments that fosters sustained innovation.
That's why I'm here. This is not just about "art" for me, that would be selfish. I make decisions around my ethics, values and Indigenous teachings. I'm here with the ultimate goal to make equitable, sovereign filled communities where everyone has the opportunity to live peacefully.
My Ancestors are watching.
Humbled by the task, honoured for the work, grateful for the opportunity, respectfully,
I'd also like to congratulate Weyni Mengesha for assuming the positions as the Artistic Director of Soulpepper. I had the privilege of learning from her this past year in the Rumble Theatres Directors lab and she is one formidable leader. Very exciting.
Photos by Tim Matheson
Costumes by Sam McCue