Interweaving Performance Cultures
Ric Knowles is Professor of Theatre Studies at the University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada, editor of Theatre Journal, former editor of Modern Drama and Canadian Theatre Review, and general editor of two book series with Playwrights Canada Press. He is the award-winning author of The Theatre of Form and the Production of Meaning (1999), Shakespeare and Canada (2004), Reading the Material Theatre (2004), Remembering Women Murdered by Men (2006, with the Cultural Memory Group), Theatre & Interculturalism (2010) and How Theatre Means (forthcoming), and award-winning editor or co-editor of ten anthologies and essay collections, including, with Monique Mojica, the two volumes of Staging Coyote’s Dream: An Anthology of First Nations Drama in English (2003). He works as a professional dramaturg and director with culturally specific and intercultural theatre companies with mandates to work across difference.
Indigenous Knowledge, Contemporary Performance
This project takes as its starting point the intersection of two extant Aboriginal research creation projects: the process developed by New York’s Spiderwoman Theater called Storyweaving, based on indigenous women’s stories; and the research project initiated by Plains Cree director Floyd Favel known as Native Performance Culture Research, dedicated to investigating the analysis and use of indigenous cultural texts in the creation of contemporary Native theatre and performance.
Indigenous Knowledge, Contemporary Performance advances this work on three fronts: embodied performance research on the recovery of indigenous knowledge; the generation and development of contemporary indigenous dramaturgical processes and structures grounded in indigenous cultural texts; and the recording of indigenous non-text-based performance drawing on indigenous forms of annotation. Each of these initiatives centers around three test-case performances: a) Chocolate Woman Dreams the Milky Way, which builds its dramaturgical models on Kuna cosmologies as embedded in the mola textile arts and pictographs of the Indigenous people of Kuna Yala; b) Omushkego Cree Water Stories, which builds on the storytelling forms of the James Bay Cree; and c) Sideshow Freaks and Circus Injuns, which is structured around the ancient indigenous earthworks and mounds that are spread across eastern North America.
The objectives of this research are to recover Indigenous epistemologies embodied in cultural forms and practices, to apply these principles to the cultivation of contemporary performance forms and to develop ways of annotating, recording, preserving and “scripting” Indigenous performance grounded in indigenous methods of annotation and memory.
Allen, C., Trans-Indigenous: Methodologies for Global Native Literary Studies. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2012.
Carter, J., “Chocolate Woman Visions an Organic Dramaturgy: Blocking-Notation for the Indigenous Soul.” Canadian Women Studies/Les Cahiers de la femme 26.3-4 (2008): 169-77.
Wilson, S., Research is Ceremony: Indigenous Research Methods. Halifax: Fernwood Publishing, 2008.