SKYBORN: A Land Reclamation Odyssey
Today is the final day of the first week of the workshop for Skyborn as a part of Boca del Lupo's residency. This journey is the next story that I'm working on as a director - or a member of the Artistic Leadership team - I feel much more comfortable with Fire Creator.
There are many incredible things to share about this journey that I will slowly unfold as we travel through this investigation but I wanted to make a totem of the work that's happened this week.
I'll start with the team being giant, in this workshop alone I'm helping lead 22+ people and we're missing some key creatives because everyone is working on many projects all over. Our production tables stretch across the entire Performance Work's space with tables and people working 2 deep and in fact we've run out of tables for people to work at and we're having to build work tables to bring in to our next residency to accommodate the knowledge holders.
We spent the first two days arriving and bringing our bodies, cultures, Ancestors and spirits into the room to meet the work. We've been spending the time since then exploring how we're working as a team.
With a multi-National company of talent coming from all across Turtle Island we are using this time to understand how we can elicit, evoke and deliver on supporting the story by creating our own Skyborn vernacular.
We have many oral, body, stylistic and pedagogies that have entered the space and it's a big part of my job being consciously aware and deeply listening to these extraordinary intersections of creative practice.
I'm presencing my knowledge of Indigenous sign language as a tool to communicate beyond oral language. I love Indigenous sign language because it's been a tradition for international Indigenous gatherings for hundreds of years.
We have a gathering of Musqueam matriarchs who are leading us into the rich, vast, complex and long histories and traditions of the peoples of these lands. This is how Indigenous Theatre is created.
Yes, I am Indigenous but I am not Musqueam, I am not of this Nation and I have a lot of capacity building, listening and reflecting to do to meet and be present for the work. As a Syilx womxn, my people have for thousands of years travelled down to the Sto:lo river and traded and had agreements with the people of the river and I am spending significant time feeling what this act of continuance is.
That's what we are doing here, we are reclaiming place names on this territory but we are not reclaiming culture because that's an admission that settler colonials were somehow successful in wiping out our ways of being and they weren't. This multi-national Indigenous approach to story and art creation is a continuance of thousand year old traditions and I'm beyond proud to be a part of it - it's nourishing, healing and powerful.
We had a small community sharing last night and what I really heard from that and what I am experiencing is the invention of what Indigenous Theatre practice is as an embodiment in this present and how that informs the lengths and vast spaces we create to harness Ancestral power and knowledge.
To ethically and meaningfully create Indigenous Theatre it takes many people and much time and significant support. For far too long white hegemony permissed a high level of pan Indigenous oppressive practices. The "any indian can lead" the "this drum will do" violent approach. This general "indian aesthetic" that made it easier for colonials to assess, manage and attempt to control Indigenous Nationhoods.
That way of creating feeds colonial assimilative deliverables and is a poor attempt to reduce the scope, depth and multi-layered existence of Indigenous Nations. For decades that was the dominant and accepted way of creating where whites led and euro-centric normative models framed us and we are not doing that anymore.
This Indigenous led approach is the only way forward to make outcomes that can actually support these stories and the people creating them. I am humbled everyday when I come into work to find ways to let the relationality and land based practices inform us. I'm grateful that I get to listen to the Musqueam matriarchs generously teach me about their territory and I am honoured that I can help facilitate a Musqueam-centric creation method.
There is much to say and much to do and I've got to get going to work.
With so much fulfillment and Indigenous love,
p.s here are some photos of the journey so far and limelet Boca for this space and time on Sən̓aʔq in residence with you!
p.p.s Personal admin update - on avg emails are taking about 3 weeks for a response due to volume. If you've sent an email please do not contact me via text or social media. Member - it's just me and to be present in this work - I'm in the work.