A photograph of a peaceful sunrise. In the foreground of the image, there is a cluster of houses, only distinguishable as silhoutes in the early morning light. Behind the houses rests a peaceful lake with rounded mountaintops in the distance. The sky is a golden-blue and is filled with soft white-golden clouds.

The Urgency of Agency:

Diverse Perspectives on Cultural ‘Pre-sumptions’ about the Social Contract of Theatre-Making

Friday, June 25, 2021 | 13:30 - 15:00

Live discussion on Zoom; spoken in English. No ASL interpretation or translation will be offered for this event.



The members of this panel have offered the following statement on Friday, June 25th, 2021:

As we continue to examine what it means to us, as artists, to deconstruct harmful systemic artistic practices while reinvesting in new holistic pedagogies of making; we are profoundly impacted by the recent revealing of the unmarked graves at the Marieval Residential School. Our combined histories carry a kaleidoscope of traumas and in solidarity with the Indigenous Peoples across Turtle Island we are choosing to take this time to pause and reflect. To ponder what more we can do and to eventually put those thoughts into action.  It is with extremely heavy hearts that we will not be moving forward with today's panel. We would like to let you all know that we have a deep  yearning to share with you all our approaches to a decolonized theatre making practice but today we could not broach and further that conversation with where we are as artists and academics rooted in the community.


This practitioner/scholar roundtable aims to highlight various perspectives and considerations on what comes first before the process of theatre-making begins. In the context of the ongoing BLM (Black Lives Matter) Movement and in conjunction with the emerging conversations in the Canadian theatre community on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, a contemplation of the urgency of agency is essential. Now, during a de facto pause on theatre-making, we are able to take stock of the ways in which our own practices affect our work and the work of others. A number of equity and inclusion initiatives have sprouted in the theatre community in Canada highlighting the work that needs to be done and the habits and attitudes that need to be redressed to create a healthier community for all. This roundtable makes space for reflection on the foundations of our own practices as Latinx-Canadian, Indigenous, Euro-Canadian and African Immigrant theatre practitioners to elucidate the similarities and the disparities that our respective value systems bring to our preparations for theatre-making.

Focusing on the pre-creation phase of theatre-making highlights the ways in which we come together: our intentions, priorities and ethos that inform our practices. What do we need to attend to before we begin the work of manifesting the story? It is crucial that we explore ethical questions that underscore the implicit and the explicit social agreements related to our practices of Land Acknowledgement, the appreciation (valorization) of diversity, and the decolonization of our artistic practices.


Deneh’Cho Thompson (Dene), Assistant Professor, University of Saskatchewan

Pedro Chamale (Latinx-Canadian), Co-Artistic Director of rice & beans theatre

Heather Inglis (Euro-Canadian) Artistic Producer of Workshop West Playwrights’ Theatre (WWPT) - First Woman to take on Artistic leadership of the company

Mũkonzi Mũsyoki, a Kenyan Ph.D. Student; Drama and Performance Studies, University of Alberta, Currently coordinator of ‘Creative Incubator’ an Edmonton BIPOC Creation Circle, WWPT