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Marie Humber Clements

Marie Clements is an award-winning Métis performer, playwright and director whose work has been presented on stages across Canada, the United States and Europe. A fellowship award from the BC Film Commission enabled her to develop the film adaptation of her stage play, The Unnatural and Accidental Women. She is also a regular contributor on CBC Radio. The world premiere of Copper Thunderbird is the first time Canada’s National Arts Centre has produced the work of a First Nations playwright on its main stage.

Copper Thunderbird
Format: Paperback
Text Content Territories: Indigenous Canadian; First Nations; Anishinaabeg; Ojibway;
Grade Levels: University/College;

Copper Thunderbird is a play on canvases based on the life of Norval Morrisseau. Inside the power-lines which Morrisseau boldly defined in his art were the colours he experienced between his Ojibwa cosmology, his life on the street, and his spiritual and philosophical transformations to become the Father of Contemporary Native Art and a Grand Shaman. Appearing simultaneously in this multi-layered drama as a small boy, a young warrior and an old man, Morrisseau confronts his many selves over the Faustian destiny he encountered during his vision quest—a momentary terror that led to a life wracked by both triumph and ordeal, drawing his vibrant colours, both luminous and dark, from the life-force within him.

Norval Morrisseau is notorious for the life he has led, the company he has kept, the wives, lovers, parasitic drinking buddies and abusive family members he has had and passed through as if they were merely insubstantial phantoms. The paintings he has sold to buy another bottle of alcohol, to get through another brutal day, hang in galleries around the world, a phenomenon Morrisseau himself simply took for granted. Framed variously with the identities of Indian, Artist and Shaman, Copper Thunderbird interrogates both the stereotypes and the politically correct judgments that have manufactured Morrisseau’s public personae, creating a power-figure that transcends culture and morality, earth and water, fire and air.

Additional Information
84 pages | 6.00" x 9.00"

Authentic Canadian Content
Authentic Indigenous Text
$15.95

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Talker's Town and The Girl Who Swam Forever
Format: Paperback
Grade Levels: 11; 12; University/College;

The two one-act plays in Talker’s Town and The Girl Who Swam Forever are set in a small northern B.C. mill town in the 1960s. They portray identical characters and action from entirely different gender and cultural perspectives. In many ways, the two separate works are inter-related coming-of-age stories, with transformation as a key theme.

The central action in both plays involves an Aboriginal girl, Roberta Bob, who escapes from a residential school and hides outby the river. In Nelson Gray’s Talker’s Town, the story is conveyed by a teenage non-Indigenous boy whose friend has had a relationship with the girl and whose attempts to hush up the affair lead to disastrous consequences.

In Marie Clements’s The Girl Who Swam Forever, the action unfolds from the perspective of the girl, who – to claim her past and secure her future – must undergo a shape-shifting transformation and meet her grandmother’s ancestral spirit in the form of a hundred-year-old sturgeon.

Employing a single setting and working with the same set of characters, the playwrights have created two radically different fictional worlds, one Aboriginal and one non-Aboriginal. Published together, the plays form a fascinating diptych that reveals rifts between Indigenous and colonial/settler histories and provides a vehicle for cultural exchange. As a starting point for trans-cultural dialogue, this set of plays will be of interest to educators, theatre directors, and the general reader interested in the current discourse arising from Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Idle No More, and the Indigenous Rights Movement happening throughout North America. Read as a set, these two plays also invite conversations about negotiating creative boundaries, particularly with respect to eco-centric politics and cultural appropriation.

Talker’s Town: cast of 5 men and 1 woman.

The Girl Who Swam Forever: cast of 2 women and 2 men.

Educator Information
Recommended in the Canadian Indigenous Books for Schools 2019-2020 resource list for grades 11 and 12 for Drama and English Language Arts.

Additional Information
160 pages | 5.50" x 8.50"

 

Authentic Canadian Content
Authentic Indigenous Text
$18.95

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DraMétis: Three Métis Plays
Format: Paperback
Text Content Territories: Indigenous Canadian; Métis;

DraMétis is the first anthology to focus on the emerging discipline of Métis drama. The pieces have all been previously produced and highlight the diversity of Métis drama being written and performed in Canada.

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Authentic Indigenous Text
$19.95

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The Edward Curtis Project: A Modern Picture Story
Format: Paperback
Text Content Territories: Indigenous Canadian;

A profoundly moving new drama by Marie Clements, combined with a spectacular contemporary photo exhibit by Rita Leistner.

Edward Curtis saw his job as that of creating a photographic record of “the vanishing race of the North American Indian.” His work therefore became as much a projection of colonial attitudes upon aboriginal peoples as it was an authentic record of their lives.

The Edward Curtis Project began when the Presentation House Theatre commissioned Marie Clements to write a play that would stage the issues raised by Curtis’ monumental but controversial achievement—to dramatize not only the creation of his twenty-volume photographic and ethnographic epic and the enormous commitment, unwavering vision, sacrifice, poverty and ultimate disappointment it represented for the photographer, but also the devastating legacy that his often misrepresentative and imposed vision had on the lives of the people he touched.

Upon receiving the commission, Marie Clements immediately asked photojournalist Rita Leistner to create a parallel photographic investigation of Curtis’ work—to question the practice of documentary photography with the very medium under scrutiny. After two years of retracing Curtis’ footsteps, travelling to First Nations communities throughout North America, Clements finally felt that between them: “We were making our own pictures out of our own beliefs and they were adding up. We were inside the lies and beauty of history, of gender and class, we were making a case for the future.”

This collaborative work of two artists, to take Curtis’ photographs to heart and to see who and what might live inside them today, resulted in a profoundly moving new drama by Marie Clements, and a spectacular contemporary photo exhibit by Rita Leistner. Published together here, they illustrate the trauma that the notion of a “vanishing race” has inflicted on an entire people, and celebrate the triumph of a future in which North American First Nations communities “are everywhere and it is beautiful.”

 

Authentic Canadian Content
Authentic Indigenous Text
$24.95

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