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Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Living treaty marks new relationship with Indigenous playwright

Living treaty marks a first for the Arts Club Theatre Company's Silver Commissions Projects

Originally established in 2006, the Arts Club Theatre Company’s Silver Commissions Project has provided funding for Canadian playwrights to complete a new play. In its dozen years, the Project has produced such works as Onegin, The Waiting Room, and Tear the Curtain.

In a media release earlier this month, the Arts Club announced a new Silver Commission, in co-operation with Edmonton’s Citadel Theatre, to fund Kim Senklip Harvey’s new play, Break Horizons.

But while the announcement of a new play commission is usually not big news, it comes with what is a first for the Project, and what may very well be a first for Canadian theatre, with the signing of a living treaty.

In a ceremony earlier this month, the living treaty was signed by Harvey, and the two theatre companies.

“This agreement is an exciting re-examination of how to engage with our Indigenous partners,” says the Arts Club’s incoming artistic director, Ashlie Corcoran in the release.

Saying she was elated to enter the treaty with the two theatre companies, Harvey also sees the treaty as having a genuine connection to her new play.

“At the core of this treaty are the values of trust, love, and respect, which are exactly what Break Horizons, a story about Indigenous transformation and justice, needs,” says Harvey in the release. “This means that as an Indigenous artist, the foundation of our relationships is in the Indigenous paradigm of artistic practice that we create and I exist in, and that has never been created before.”

A director, playwright, and actor, Senklip comes from the Syilx, Tsilhqot’in, Ktunaxa, and Dakelh Nations in British Columbia’s central interior region. Holding a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of British Columbia, she recently worked on the world premiere of the new musical, Children of God, and is the author of the play, Kamloopa.

In a blog post, Senklip describes her new play:

Break Horizons follows 5 Indigenous women and is set in a woman’s Healing Lodge, which are correctional facilities for Indigenous peoples. In a time when justice is so deliberately being denied to Indigenous peoples, Tina Fontaine and Colten Boushie who we failed abhorently [sic], I can’t think of a more urgent time to be talking about judicial reform.”

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