A partnership has been forged between three Canadian theatre companies to support emerging Indigenous and Black playwrights. Creative Catalysts is a new program that will welcome two creators from Indigenous communities and two from Black communities and offer them compensation, resources, expertise and mentorship.
“The voices of Indigenous and Black writers are still underrepresented in Canadian theatre,” said Quincy Armorer, artistic director of Black Theatre Workshop (BTW). “And this joint initiative is in response to this imbalance, addressing the need for added support and guidance to emerging playwrights from these communities.”
Black Theatre Workshop calls itself Canada’s longest running theatre company dedicated to the works of Black and diasporic communities. This project fits in well with its stated goal of creating “greater cross-cultural understanding by challenging its audience and the status quo.”
Playwrights to ‘hone in on their creative process’
The partnership involves Native Earth Performing Arts (NEPA), currently in its 38th year and said to be Canada’s oldest professional Indigenous performing arts company. And the third partner is Thousand Island Playhouse (TIP), a company which has been presenting live theatre for over 35 years in the heart of the 1000 Islands. This group of islands is set in the St. Lawrence River straddling the United States and the Canadian province of Ontario. It is a popular vacation destination. The company produces eight plays yearly as well as educational activities in the area.
The Creative Catalysts program is designed to enable the playwrights to hone in on their creative process, says Kieth Barker, artistic director of Native Earth Performing Arts: “As a writer, I always appreciate models which allow for fluidity and conversation within the work. As I have learned, the creative process is never a straight line, with unexpected shifts in trajectory. Flexibility is paramount.”
After the program’s first year, each project will be reviewed to assess next steps to provide support or opportunities for the works. This might include more time in the program with the support of a creative consultant or involvement in one of the country’s festivals. Submissions for the program will be accepted until May 31, 2021 and the program begins on July 15, 2021.
“Launching Creative Catalysts is an exciting first step in the long term partnership between BTW, NEPA, and TIP to support Indigenous and Black creators” says Brett Christopher, managing artistic director of Thousand Island Playhouse. “We’re looking forward to this inaugural year and welcoming the first of many cohorts to the program.”