Will Weigler Artistic Director
A decade ago, Will’s book Strategies for Playbuilding: Helping Groups Translate Issues into Theatre was one of the first resources to offer non-professional theatre ensembles both theory and practical techniques for collaboratively developing plays about their personal and cultural issues. It received the Distinguished Book Award for outstanding contribution to the field from the American Alliance for Theatre and Education. His recently completed doctoral dissertation, Engaging the Power of the Theatrical Event, radically redefines what it means for theatre artists to “give voice” to community members.
I have been an applied theatre director, playwright, teacher and producer for over 30 years. In 2005, I produced and directed an original large-scale musical play called Common Wealth in collaboration with an inter-cultural, multi-generational ensemble of residents in the small town of Darrington, Washington and the nearby Sauk-Suiattle Indian reservation. The show was performed by people from both communities and incorporated stories that celebrated their mutual relationships with the mountains, forests and rivers that surround them. For my doctoral research at the University of Victoria I studied hundreds of different stories about people’s most unforgettable experiences at the theatre. These were moments on stage that people described as making them suddenly and unexpectedly shift their understanding of what they thought they knew. By analyzing what was happening in each of these stories, I was able to produce a practical theory about what it was about the staging that made it so remarkable. In From the Heart, I am teaching the project participants what I learned in my research to help them turn their personal insights and epiphanies into powerful and evocative performance pieces for the labyrinth.
Krystal Cook Co-facilitator
Krystal is a Kwakwaka’wakw woman from the Namgis First Nation of Alert Bay, B.C. She has been writer and performer of theatre and poetry and a dancer for over 20 years, and has worked as a facilitator of Healing through the Arts in the Aboriginal Community for over ten years. Krystal is a Mother who lives in Victoria, B.C. with her partner Nik and two sons, Kwasun & Rayn. She is a graduate of the En’owkin International School of Writing at the University of Victoria, and the Native Theatre School Program at the Centre for Indigenous Theatre in Toronto. Krystal has performed her one-woman show Emergence at IMPACT Theatre Festival, Uno Fest, FemFest, and Puente Meli Festival. Krystal currently works in Aboriginal Education with the Aboriginal Nations Education Division in Victoria. She is a member of the Namgis Constitution Development Committee and local Kwak’wala language group committed to preserving Kwak’wala.
My passion and commitment to the preservation and restoration of my Native Language is the driving force behind my desire to support myself and others to pick up our creative tools for our voices of truth to be heard and healed through Poetry, Orature, Non-fiction, Chant, Song and Drama. Writing, particularly Poetry Performance, is very therapeutic for me. It has helped me to erase my own invisibility as a Kwakwaka’wakw woman, and given me a positive healthy platform to channel and transform my energies creatively. I have been writer and performer of theatre and poetry and a dancer for over 20 years, and have worked as a facilitator of Healing through the Arts in the Aboriginal Community for over ten years. I feel truly honoured and blessed to have had the opportunity to train and work with a rich variety of Facilitators and Teachers who approach creativity, performance, writing and healing from a holistic perspective. Mask, Playback Theatre, Earth Based Theatre, Indigenous Theatre, and Sacred Clown training and performance have inspired me greatly. Through the body-centred storytelling workshop I’m leading with the project participants, I hope to provide them with a positive memorable experience of theatre and poetry as inspiring, uplifting and fun tools that can empower, give voice, explore, heal, and share. Gi’lakasla. In the Spirit of our Ancestors.
Krystal’s one-person show Emergence
Bisia Belina Voice, Singing and Movement Coach
Bisia is a recording artist, performer, and teacher. For the past 25 years she has been a practicing Registered Massage Therapist (RMT) specializing in alignment techniques, postural education, relaxation and therapeutic massage techniques. As the founder of VoiceWorks & VocalBody Arts in Victoria, Bisia offers weekly drop in classes, vocal body intensives, teacher development series as well as self–care intensives for professional and informal caregivers. Bisia strongly believes that expressive arts can have a huge influence on one’s mental, emotional and physical health.
My approach to learning incorporates movement, breathing, singing and composition to access the power of one’s personal creativity and connections with others, all while improving wellness, and vocal confidence. VoiceWorks and VocalBody Arts involve tuning into one’s vocal anatomy, understanding rhythm, time, harmony, and melody. In this collaborative work, vocal expression combined with breath, movement, imagery and sound become the method for reconnecting with one’s self and one’s community. BodyTalk involves self centering through recognizing the signs and symptoms of an overstressed anatomy, releasing unnecessary tension patterns, regaining breath, flexibility, composure and focus. Through Improvisational Movement, participants explore the interplay between sound, movement and attitude, and its energizing effect on the nervous system. Inspired by movement awareness patterns that increase range of motion, flexibility, co-ordination and grace, participants begin to move beyond feeling self-conscious and become able to create community works together that rejuvenate, recharge and transform. By expanding a sense of self and improving vocal confidence we become ready to access the power of our creativity and move forward in our work together.
Paulette Regan Co-facilitator
Paulette is currently Senior Researcher for the Historical Memory and Reconciliation Project at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, and a Research Fellow at the Liu Institute for Global Issues at UBC. Her book, Unsettling the Settler Within: Indian Residential Schools, Truth-telling and Reconciliation in Canada (UBC Press, 2010) has been a non-fiction best seller in BC and was recently selected as a finalist for the 2012 Canada Prize by the Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences.
I have two roles in From the Heart. First, because this project is primarily based upon my book, I am working in close partnership with the professional artists on the team to provide them with guidance and support. As a scholar and practitioner, my academic studies and applied research projects over 25 years have focused on a wide range of unresolved and deeply-rooted historical conflicts between Indigenous peoples and the Canadian state. Since 2007, I have worked for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, which is mandated to document the history and legacy of the Indian residential school system and provide policy recommendations to facilitate long-term reconciliation between Indigenous peoples and Canadian society. I have a particular interest in the role and responsibility of non-Indigenous people in the decolonization project and the potential of truth and reconciliation processes to either transform or re-inscribe colonial relations. I have been investigating how critical and Indigenous research methodologies and pedagogies, particularly the use of intercultural dialogue, auto/ethnography, story-telling, arts-based engagement, and witnessing practices, might facilitate the decolonization and transformation of settler historical memory and identity. For many years, with my colleague Brenda Ireland, I have been co-facilitating a workshop we call “Unsettling Dialogues of History and Hope” that turns these questions of methodology into embodied practice. My second role in From the Heart will be to spend two full weekends with the ensemble of community participants, co-facilitating this workshop with Brenda as a catalyst for generating the substance of the material they will develop, rehearse and perform in the show.
Brenda Ireland Co-facilitator
Brenda is an Anishnaabe-Métis community-based professional and intercultural practitioner/facilitator with 18 years of leadership in social, education and community development initiatives. Currently the Executive Director for the Industry Council for Aboriginal Business (ICAB), and a member of the Board of Directors for the BC Human Rights Coalition, Brenda was formerly a Research Manager for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. In addition to working with ICAB, she continues her interest in the education field and to work as an advocate for Aboriginal learners. She has two children and two granddaughters. The role of history, ceremony and story-telling are at the heart of Brenda’s work—essential to the transformative change necessary for ‘meaningful’ reconciliation.
Rob Wipond Rapporteur
Based in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, Rob Wipond has been a freelance writer of magazine features, news articles, political commentaries, social satires, musical theatre and performance art for over two decades. He’s written about dumpsites, banks, consciousness research, prostitution, privacy implications of new technologies, sadomasochism, health care, toxic waste, international political economy, infomercials, psychedelic drugs, mental health laws and many other topics which hover between the intensely personal and the broadly political. His writings have appeared in Adbusters, Chatelaine, Explore, Monday Magazine, Queens Quarterly and MAD, and he’s currently a regular columnist and feature writer on community issues for Victoria’s monthly magazine Focus. Along the way, he’s been nominated for a National Magazine Award in science writing, and Western Magazine Awards for science (twice), regular columns (twice), and business writing (which he won). In 2012 he was nominated for Jack Webster Awards in health/science writing and legal journalism, and won the Webster for Community Reporting.
Throughout the project I will be informally interviewing participants about their experiences as well as talking with audience members in the heart of the labyrinth after they have seen the show. We want to be sure these voices are an integral part of the how-to manual that we will produce during the final phase of the project.
Katrina Brown Technical Director
Katrina earned her BFA in Visual Arts from the University of Victoria in 2012. Recently she has volunteered as Head Set Designer for a local play, Ghosts of the Plaza, and she will be designing the set for the Four Seasons Musical Theatre’s upcoming fall 2013 production of Seussical.
I was told about a labyrinth being built in a warehouse for a theatre piece and I was excited about how unique that is. Now I have learned it is so much more than that; every little detail is truly ‘from the heart.’ This is an amazing project and I just feel so lucky and honoured to be working with such great people and being a part of this experience.
Loreena Sandor Technical Assistant
Loreena received her BA in History in Art (Honours) with a Visual Arts Major from the University of Victoria in 2012. She was Assistant Set Designer for the 2012-13 Ghosts of the Plaza play and will be assisting with set design for the fall 2013 production of Seussical.
I was excited to take part in the creative process for the From the Heart project. From theatre performances to paintings, sculptures and architecture, the arts can create experiences for viewers and share cultural ideals. It seems perfect to utilize this aspect of the arts to bridge misunderstandings between cultures. I can’t wait to see this project all come together and to experience it myself!
Ilya Stavitsky Photo Documentarian
Originally from the Far East of Russia, Ilya came to Canada in late 2010 after graduating from the Far Eastern University of Humanities in Khabarovsk. In 2011 he enrolled in the Applied Communication Program at Camosun College in Victoria where he studied video, photography and desktop design. Obtaining strong multimedia skills with his big passion for arts allow him to experiment and create original artwork.
Curiosity, passion for various experimental art performances and search for new ideas brought me into this project as a photographer. I see everything that is happening with the project through the viewfinder of my camera and sometimes it is a big challenge to capture in a still photo the creative flow of the participants. I am truly amazed how these people’s stories, their lives and experience shape into something really important that will help to overcome misunderstanding and a gap in the relationship between people.
Courtenay Moher Production Manager
Courtenay will be graduating with a BA in Anthropology at the University of Victoria in June. She is also volunteering at the Royal BC Museum this summer as a docent for the ‘Race to the End of the Earth’ feature exhibit.
Although I am late in joining the team I am very excited to be participating in From the Heart. Much of my recent schooling has explored reconciliation and what that means for everyone involved. So to be involved in a project with such a powerful and heartfelt message is really exciting for me!
Paula Jardine Guiding Spirit for the “Heart” of the Labyrinth
Paula Jardine is devoted to reviving and redefining community arts and the role of artists in communities. The founding artistic director of the Public Dreams Society, Paula’s most visible achievement is the introduction of Lantern Processions as a community art form in Canada. She is best known for her initiation of the Illuminares Evening Lantern Procession and the Parade of the Lost Souls, both popular annual events held in East Vancouver, involving hundreds of volunteers and artists, and attended by thousands. A self proclaimed spark plug, she pioneered work in outdoor spectacle theatre, beginning with “Public Dreams; the Walking Tour”(1980), the first Public Dream; Torch Choreography and Fire Sculpture (Edmonton Folk Festival, 1981-1983),and the Burn Your Regrets ritual bonfire and torch choreography (First Night, Edmonton 1993) as well as introducing pebble mosaics as a public art form for parks, and creating the Trout Lake Restoration Project. Paula initiated the Lantern Processions in Esquimault, North Vancouver, The Vancouver Folk Music Festival, and introduced lanterns, torches and fire sculpture to the Fremont Arts Council In Seattle. Since leaving Public Dreams in 1995, she has continued as a free lance artist. She is currently artist in residence at the Mountain View Cemetery in Vancouver and the Royal Oak Burial Park in Victoria.
The visitors’ route through the performance space will lead them to the “Heart” chamber where they will be met by non-performing members of the ensemble. There will be tea and fresh bread waiting, and an invitation to sit and take time in conversation with others who have come through. I am collaborating with the labyrinth designers and the project volunteers to make a warm and welcoming place for visitors to connect with others, make art, read, write and reflect at the end of the journey through the labyrinth.