From the Heart won’t be anything like a conventional play. Audiences will come to a Victoria warehouse where they will be invited in small groups to wend their way through a beautiful indoor labyrinth of passageways with doors and windows, alcoves, chambers, rooms and nooks. All along their journey they will encounter what the ensemble members have distilled into performance and arts-based expressions of their own personal learning and revelations. We are envisioning this project as a new kind of peer-to-peer public education forum built around the premise that when the ensemble members devise performance pieces inspired by what it was that led them to experience a shift in understanding, that work will open up new ways of understanding among their audiences as well. The spectators’ journey will culminate at the “heart” of the labyrinth where they will be welcomed to sit and have some tea, to reflect on the experience in conversation with others, or to draw, write, read, or simply take time for a pause before leaving. Two internationally acclaimed architects, Mark Lakeman and Mar Ricketts, are co-designing the labyrinth in consultation with project participants.
Our aim is to create a model for an arts-based “container” that allows non-Indigenous community members of different ages and cultural backgrounds an opportunity to learn about, reflect on, and have a chance to express what it means to them to embrace a personal commitment to ethical truth telling and fostering genuine reconciliation with Aboriginal people. New perceptions about the ways one sees the world can be difficult to articulate, especially when they come from the heart. The Immersion Theatre labyrinth will give participants a platform, even briefly, to perform a story, scene or song, or to produce a soundscape or visual display that conveys to others: “this is what led me to see things differently; this is what I’ve created to help you understand what I see.”
Following the performances during the summer of 2013, the core creative team will review and evaluate the project in order to produce a user-friendly workbook for replicating this model. Artistic Director Will Weigler and other team members will network with other communities in Canada, inviting them to use this model to create their own productions of From the Heart. VIDEA has a history of collaborative projects with Indigenous communities in several countries in sub-Saharan Africa and envisions sharing this process and its outcomes with them to support and assist their own struggles to implement sustainable development in their communities guided by Indigenous knowledge and experience.