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Our Stories: Indigenous Book Club Conversation with Jesse Rae Archibald-Barber

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Thu, Feb 11, 2021

Join us for this live, online discussion with editor and author Jesse Rae Archibald-Barber  (Metis, Cree, Scottish, and German) in conversation with playwright, director and dramaturg Yvette Nolan (Algonquin) to discuss our February Indigenous Book Club selection Performing Turtle Island: Indigenous Theatre on the World Stage by Jesse Rae Archibald-Barber (Editor), Kathleen Irwin (Editor), Moira J. Day (Editor) .The event will be broadcast on Facebook Live

Register to receive reminders and the Facebook Live link.

Log in and comment on the reflection questions below. Feel free to engage and share your thoughts about the book throughout the month! Reflection questions will also be shared on NAC's Facebook Event Page for the book..

Borrow the book from the library  Or purchase it from these Indigenous owned and operated bookstores.

Our Stories: Indigenous Book Clubseries is a partnership between the National Arts Centre’s Indigenous Theatre and the Ottawa Public Library.

With thanks to sponsors:

  • Indigenous Programming (NAC): The Slaight Family Foundation, TD Ready Commitment
  • Friends of the Ottawa Public Library Association (OPL)

About the book

Following the Final Report on Truth and Reconciliation, Performing Turtle Island investigates theatre as a tool for community engagement, education, and resistance.

Understanding Indigenous cultures as critical sources of knowledge and meaning, each essay addresses issues that remind us that the way to reconciliation between Canadians and Indigenous peoples is neither straightforward nor easily achieved. Comprised of multidisciplinary and diverse perspectives, Performing Turtle Island considers performance as both a means to self-empowerment and self-determination, and a way of placing Indigenous performance in dialogue with other nations, both on the lands of Turtle Island and on the world stage.

About the editors

Jesse Rae Archibald-Barber is from oskana kâ-asastêki and is an associate professor of Indigenous literatures at First Nations University of Canada in Regina. He is the editor of kisiskâciwan: Indigenous Voices from Where the River Flows Swiftly and the writer and producer of the Making Treaty 4 performance project.

Kathleen Irwin is Associate Dean of Graduate Studies and Research in the Faculty of Media, Art, and Performance at the University of Regina.

Moira J. Day is a professor of drama at the University of Saskatchewan, where she also serves as an adjunct member of Women's and Gender Studies, and the Classical, Medieval and Renaissance Studies Unit. She lives in Edmonton.

Reflection Questions – Performing Turtle Island: Indigenous Theatre on the World Stage

  1. Have you seen any Indigenous theatre? What was your first experience with Indigenous performance?
  1. In the introduction, the editors ask to consider: “1) how Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities adapt to recent transformations, 2) how we include newcomers in our particular (de)colonial discourse, and 3) the aesthetic forms used to reflect changing ideas of land, community, and history within the ideational borders that designate... Canada.” What are your thoughts about those considerations as you read the book?
  1. Have you considered what lens you view Indigenous work with? How does it change your experience of the work?
  1. Michael Greyeyes talks about have an “uneasy relationship with period-film work” as an Indigenous performer and the depiction of Indigenous communities as monolithic. Are there any standout performances on screen or stage where you have seen an Indigenous character written with complexity and with cultural specificity?
  1. Spy Dénommé-Welse and Catherine Magowan wrote, “Many of the country’s established arts and culture organizations were founded at a time when Indigenous cultural practices were outlawed and Indigenous people did not yet have the right to vote.” As we look at the arts landscape today, what positive changes had been made towards inclusion of Indigenous pedagogy and ways of working and what still needs to be done?
  1. Carol Greyeyes uses the bundle (“containing simple everyday items,” or “a collection of special objects, gathered over generations for use in ceremony or healing.”) as a way to communicate the values and lessons she brings into her theatre education practice. What would you include in your own bundle to help communicate your values and positionality?
  1. In conversation with Daniel David Moses, Annie Smith asks, “Why do we only value work done by professional theatre? Are not student and non-professional productions equally or more important?” What are your thoughts about these questions?
  1. Yvette Nolan writes about seeing The Ecstasy of Rita Joe and said, “I saw for the first time, my (hi)story onstage.” Is there a piece of music, writing, performance, or a quote that you connected with in a way that made you feel seen or represented?
  1. How are Indigenous writers and artists subverting the colonizer’s enthnographic gaze with their work?
  1. Having read Performing Turtle Island, are there any Indigenous performances that you have seen in the past that you understand differently upon reflection?