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Indigenous Theatre Library Collection

A Christmas Carol – Keyano Theatre Company
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About the Indigenous Theatre Collection

In the coming year, Theatre Alberta will work on a major project in our Library—the Indigenous Theatre Collection. Under the direction of Deborah Lee as Theatre Alberta’s Indigenous Theatre Collection Manager (Librarian), this project will engage an Indigenous Theatre Advisory Council with six artists who have strong Indigenous theatre connections to Alberta to develop a new, separate “collection management policy” for Indigenous theatre materials in the Theatre Alberta Library. The new policy will guide the celebration, purchasing, cataloguing, and promotion of plays and theatre reference materials written by Indigenous playwrights, performers, and theatre artists.

The project will be led and managed by Indigenous information professionals and theatre artists who have broad community/cultural knowledge and authority to inspire participation and collaboration.

The Theatre Alberta Library is one of the only remaining independent/public theatre libraries in Canada. We feel it is important that we actively participate in national conversations and local consultations about decolonizing cataloguing*, as well as how we actively make space for past, present, and future manifestations of Indigenous storytelling practices. If the Theatre Alberta Library does not do this work in service of published and unpublished Indigenous theatre, some of these plays and other theatre materials may not benefit from the overall systemic changes to knowledge organization and information retrieval that Indigenous artists and Librarians across Canada are seeking to address.

*Canadian Federation of Library Associations’ Recommendation: Decolonize access and classification by addressing the structural biases in existing schemes of knowledge organization and information retrieval arising from colonialism by committing to integrate Indigenous epistemologies into cataloguing practice and knowledge management.

This project comprises the initial labour and consultation required to develop new policies for an Indigenous Theatre Collection in the Theatre Alberta Library. In the future, we also hope to develop a dedicated, accessible, and culturally significant physical and online space within the Library to responsibly steward Indigenous materials, and plans to celebrate and promote the Indigenous Theatre Collection provincially and nationally.

Indigenous Theatre Collection Manager Librarian

Deborah Lee is a Cree-Metis librarian, with ancestors and family originally from the Lac Ste. Anne / Onoway / St. Albert areas of what is known as Alberta. She obtained her B.A. and MLIS from the University of Alberta. She has previously worked as a librarian at the National Library of Canada / Library and Archives Canada and the University of Saskatchewan. Deborah is now pleased to be the Indigenous Theatre Library Collection Manager at Theatre Alberta. She has also been interested in Indigenous Theatre for many years, since being a Board Member of Big Sky Theatre in Edmonton in the late 90s, but has also connected with many Indigenous theatre people in Ottawa and Saskatoon.

You can contact Deborah at deborah@theatrealberta.com

Pic me in Jasper 2021

Indigenous Theatre Library Collection Advisory Council

Tara Beagan

Tara Beagan is a proud Ntlaka’pamux and Irish “Canadian” halfbreed. She is cofounder/director of ARTICLE 11 with Andy Moro and based in Mohkinstsis (Calgary.) Beagan served as Artistic Director of Native Earth Performing Arts from February 2011 to December 2013. Beagan has been in residence at Cahoots Theatre, NEPA, the National Arts Centre, Berton House, and most recently Prairie Theatre Exchange. Seven of her 37 plays are published. Two plays have received Toronto’s Dora Award nominations, one win. In 2020, Honour Beat won the Gwen Pharis Ringwood Award for Drama. Beagan is also a Dora and Betty nominated actor and is the 2020 laureate of the Siminovitch Prize for Theatre.

Colin Wolf

Colin Wolf is a Métis performer, theatre maker, and activist from Moh’kins’tsis (Calgary), AB on Treaty 7 Territory. Wolf graduated with a BFA in Dramatic Arts from the University of Lethbridge in 2014, and then spent 5 years making theatre all over the prairies. Wolf co-founded Thumbs Up Good Work Theatre Collective with his sister Caleigh Crow in 2013. Wolf felt the call of the North and moved to Whitehorse in October 2019 to serve as Artistic Director at Gwaandak Theatre. Wolf wrote & produced CoyWolf, a story about loss and grief backdropped by a story of land displacement. Wolf produced it as Thumbs Up in partnership with the Guild Hall Theatre in Whitehorse, and toured it to 4 rural communities.

Kenneth T. Williams

Kenneth T. Williams is a Cree playwright from the George Gordon First Nation in the Treaty 4 territory. He’s the first Indigenous person to earn an MFA in Playwriting and become an assistant professor at the University of Alberta’s Department of Drama. His plays, The Herd, In Care, Café Daughter, Gordon Winter, Thunderstick, Bannock Republic, Suicide Notes and Three Little Birds have been produced across Canada. He also co-wrote Gabriel Dumont’s Wild West Show. As a dramaturg, he has helped many playwrights at all levels develop their plays.

Ramona Big Head

Ramona Big Head’s traditional Blackfoot name is translated as “Many Sweat Lodge Woman” (Akaistsiskaakii). She is a Kainai mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. She is an educator who began her career as a High School English and Drama teacher. She has written and directed over 25 productions in the past 30 years. She is the grandma who takes all her grandkids and fills up an entire row of seats at the theatre for all kinds of productions from Shakespeare to musicals! Ramona is currently the Assistant Superintendent for Peigan Board of Education. Ramona also has experience as a member of the Fort Macleod Empress Theatre Board of Directors and the Lethbridge New West Theatre Board of Directors.

Rosa John

Rosa John, Ciboney Taino Nation, is the artistic director of Kehewin Native Dance Theatre. Rosa is a mother to 4 adult children and grandmother to 16 grandchildren. She has been a storyteller since her youth and for over 40 years has brought that gift to stages around the world. She has written a children’s book, a Native Education manual, co-wrote a Community Theatre manual and almost 20 narrative scripts for youth theatre and dance performances.

Reneltta Arluk

Reneltta Arluk is of Inuvialuit, Dene and Cree descent and originates from the Northwest Territories. Raised by her grandparents on the trap-line until school age, these teachings provided Arluk with the tools to become the actor, playwright, poet, director and producer she is now. Arluk has performed in and initiated the creation of Indigenous theatre nationally and internationally for over a decade. She is committed to the development of Indigenous language inspired stories. Arluk has worked in depth with Indigenous and minority youth on both sides of the border, which began in the North through her theatre advocacy work as a producer and facilitator.

Theatre Alberta is grateful for the support of the Edmonton Arts Council, Canada Council for the Arts, and Alberta Culture for the Indigenous Theatre Library Collection project, as well as to our Indigenous colleagues across Alberta who have supported and consulted on the project to date.

                                

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