Thursday, 19 April 2018

Stories from the Professional Theatre Training Program: Cole Alvis

Our Professional Theatre Training Program (PTTP) offers financial support for unique and flexible training with a chosen mentor in any theatrical discipline (except performance.)

Cole Alvis training in directing with Nina Lee Aquino at Theatre Passe Muraille in Tkarón:to

(February 27, 2018) One of my responsibilities as Assistant Director of The Drawer Boy by Michael Healey at Theatre Passe Muraille is to write the land acknowledgement. It is my preference for this protocol to be spoken aloud prior to a performance by a leader from the theatre or artist connected with the work.

Buddies in Bad Times Theatre’s Dramaturge and Rhubarb Festival Director Mel Hauge speaks her acknowledgement over 20 times between both venues during the two-week festival. This commitment to addressing each audience is not always possible for performance venues and arts leaders often resulting in well-intentioned yet uninformed staff members speaking the obligatory words with cursory knowledge of the protocol and its meaning to the organization and/or the artists about to perform.

Nina Lee Aquino is the Artistic Director of Factory Theatre and for the recent run of Bang Bang by Kat Sandler requested Donna-Michelle St. Bernard and Kwaku Okyere write a recognition of the territories connecting the art on the stage with their understanding of this protocol. This acknowledgement was prerecorded, treated with a sound design to ensure artistry and incorporated into the opening moments of the production. Artists are moving this protocol forward to ensure there is context and a personal touch linking this action (recognizing territories) and the forthcoming production.

We are following suit for The Drawer Boy and Ojibway actor and comedian Craig Lauzon joined me recording the protocol complemented by sound design from Michelle Bensimon. It is important for this production (with Craig playing Angus) that people consider the original caretakers of the territories where Theatre Passe Muraille sits along with those where the quintessential Canadian play The Farm Show (inspiration for The Drawer Boy) took place. Through my work with Falen Johnson (Mohawk) and Jill Carter (Anishinaabe-Ashkenazi) I have learned how to recognize the territories here in Tkarón:to. Resources that supported my search for the original caretakers of what is now Clinton, ON include: 

I share these websites as resources for others looking to craft their own land acknowledgments and encourage you to consider âpihtawikosisân’s perspective in this article to ensure you move forward in a good way.

Here is the text for the pre-recorded land acknowledgement at our production of The Drawer Boy by Michael Healey at Theatre Passe Muraille (Feb. 28 - March 25, 2018):

Lauzon: (introduce yourself in your language) My name is Craig Lauzon. I’m an Ojibway actor playing Angus in this production.
Alvis: And my name is Cole Alvis, I’m a Métis artist and the assistant director.
Lauzon: We recognize the original peoples of this territory: the Haudenosaunee, Wendat and Mississauga Anishinaabe nations.
Alvis: The Drawer Boy by Michael Healey is set on a farm near what’s now called Clinton, Ontario. The original and ongoing caretakers of that area are the Haudenosaunee, Odawa and Anishinabek peoples.
Lauzon: We are grateful to the elders, water protectors and language keepers of these territories past, present and future.
Alvis: Stories have been told here since time immemorial and we recognize their power to move and transform.
Lauzon: This play is about storytelling and we invite you to learn about the Dish With One Spoon Wampum Belt Covenant that continues to govern these territories today. 
Alvis: There is one intermission in this performance. Out of respect for the actors please dim and silence your phones. Photography and video is not permitted. 
Lauzon: Meegwetch for attending our production of The Drawer Boy in celebration of Theatre Passe Muraille’s fiftieth season on these lands and waterways.

Related Reading:

The next application deadline for the Professional Theatre Training Program is October 1, 2018.

Theatre Ontario’s Professional Theatre Training Program is funded by the Ontario Arts Council, an agency of the Government of Ontario.

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