The Cultch and PuSh International Performing Arts Festival are thrilled to present Skyborn: A Land Reclamation Odyssey, a world premiere by Musqueam artist, Quelemia Sparrow produced by Savage Society, on the unceded territory of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish) and səl̓ílwətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations, January 23- February 1, 2020, at the Historic Theatre. Skyborn: A Land Reclamation Odyssey is part of The Cultch’s fourth annual Femme Series; a series of shows and events intended to highlight female-identifying voices and experiences.*
"Skyborn is an invitation; we invite you to be activated to honour, respect, and protect the land and stories of the peoples of these territories. Come learn the place names and heal the relationship between Indigenous and non-indigenous peoples."
A black hole, hungry ghosts, a Grandmother wolf—Quelemia Sparrow’s Skyborn is an epic odyssey grounded in Indigenous ancestral knowledge. Guided through the universe on a river made of stars, Sparrow makes a journey by canoe to recover her lost soul from the land of the dead. This adventure is deeply rooted in the cosmology and teachings of her Musqueam heritage.
Skyborn: A Land Reclamation Odyssey was initially conceived in 2016 when Quelemia Sparrow created a workshop production called O’wet. Since that workshop, Skyborn has gone through a total transformation for this new production. “Many issues arose from that workshop, with a non-indigenous company, pertaining to the Indigenous content and the Musqueam ideologies and protocol,” says Sparrow. Quelemia Sparrow ultimately decided she needed Indigenous artistic leadership to navigate the Musqueam perspectives and protocols, leading her to create this brand new production. “It was imperative Savage Society produce the show, says Quelemia Sparrow. “Working with Savage Society has meant that we were able to take the time to assemble an Indigenous team from across Turtle Island, and two Musqueam artists, and one Sto:lo artist.”
Directed by Kim Senklip Harvey—who lead her Kamloopa team to win the Jessie Richardson Theatre award for Significant Artistic Achievement for Decolonizing Theatre Practices and Space—Skyborn has continued the work of decolonizing theatre. "This is the process to which Indigenous story and artistic ceremony should be supported,” says Harvey. “Rooted in a deep respect for Nation specific Indigenous protocol, Skyborn is the example of how Indigenous Theatre needs to be created." With an emphasis on the collaboration of talented Indigenous artists at every stage of the production, this ‘solo show’ is anything but a solo endeavor. Skyborn is a genre busting production, with video, puppetry, animation, and music. "One of the most powerful components of telling this story is the Indigenous inter-National collaborations happening across Turtle Island within the Skyborn company,” says Harvey. “This process is a potent embodiment of the sophisticated trading agreements that have existed for thousands of years between Indigenous. This goes beyond acting on a stage, this is an act of Indigenous continuance." Skyborn features work from a team of illustrators—Chief Lady Bird, Chrystal Sparrow, and Carrielynn Victor; sound design from a team lead by Mishelle Cuttler—with the work of Poet Laureate Christie Lee Charles and Russell Wallace; puppets from renowned puppet designer, Stephanie Elgersma; video from Emily Sousanna (Kamloopa); costumes by Indigenous fashion designer, Evan Ducharme; and set and lighting designs from Andy Moro and Itai Erdal.
Skyborn is imaginatively constructed and fiercely poignant. It introduces never-before-seen Musqueam/Sto:lo visual storytelling and animation, as well as inter-Indigenous sound and puppetry, but at its heart is the simple, irreducible force of human presence: Sparrow is a natural performer, endowed with grace and magnetism.
WHEN: Jan 23 – Feb 1, 2020
Jan 23, 7:30PM: Preview
Jan 24, 7:30PM: Opening
Jan 25, Jan 28–Feb 1, 7:30PM
Jan 25–26, Feb 1, 2PM
ASL Interpreted Performance: Jan 28, 7:30PM
Live Audio Described Performance (in Partnership with VocalEye): Feb 1, 2PM
Post-show Artist Talkback: Jan 26, 28
WHERE: Historic Theatre, 1895 Venables St.
TICKETS: Tickets from $26. Single tickets on sale now through The Cultch’s Box Office: 604-251-1363 or tickets.thecultch.com.
Photo by Emily Cooper
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