What is Confluence?
Confluence is our $20,000 season-long fellowship that offers money, space, and time as well as the opportunity to be in an ongoing conversation with the creative and administrative team at Catalyst. The fellowship is designed to make space for IBPOC artists to develop a specific creative project using the models that work best for them with the wholehearted support of Catalyst’s artistic and administrative team. It aims to support and elevate the work of an IBPOC artist while creating an opportunity to evolve their practice, augment their creative and administrative skills, and expand their professional networks.
Our hope is that, over the coming years, Confluence will play a role in evolving the makeup of Edmonton’s theatre community and have a meaningful impact on the creative journeys of future creative leaders who identify as IBPOC.
APPLICATIONS FOR THE 2023/24 SEASON OF CONFLUENCE ARE NOW CLOSED. Stay tuned for the announcement of the incoming Confluence Fellow in the fall!
A special thank you to Naheyawin and Jacquelyn and Hunter Cardinal for their support in creating the fellowship and the call for applications.
THANKS TO OUR FUNDERS
Confluence is supported by the Edmonton Arts Council.
2023/24 CONFLUENCE FELLOW
Taanishi kiyawâw. Danielle LaRose dishinikaashoon. Waskasoo River Valley d'ooshchin pi amiskwacîswâskahikan niwiken. Ni parenti kayash oschi niya Métis de ni papa aux nommes de Daze, Nadeau, Marchand, Bouvette, pi LaRose Red River d'ooschiiw (Pembina, ND). My matrilineal Mennonite family, names Abrams and Kehler, also trace our settler roots back to the Red River Valley. I am a proud citizen of the Métis Nation of Alberta and I am currently a guest on Treaty Six/Métis Region 4, living on the banks of the kisiskâtciwani-sîpiy in amiskwacîswâskahikan.
Aen femme michif niya, pii aen koonteur niya. I am a Métis woman and a story-teller. It gives me great pride to introduce myself to you in my Michif language and to presence my ancestors and our proud tradition of storytelling through the revitalization of that language.
I have been working in theatre for over fifteen years. When I was seventeen, I moved from Red Deer up to Edmonton to attend the Grant MacEwan theatre program. I then moved to Glasgow where I obtained my MA from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and I remained in Britain for eight years, mainly living in London and performing on stage and screen across the UK. When I returned to Turtle Island in 2015, my work focussed on Shakespeare and classical performance, music composition, directing, and teaching. I love all these different aspects of story-telling and theatre-making, however, recent years have guided me towards playwriting and I have found this to be particularly fertile creative ground for my practice.
The pandemic had a large part to play in that evolution. After years of moving around and feeding the hustle of the theatre-making lifestyle, COVID slowed me down long enough to sit still and write. It also allowed me the essential time to delve into my family history and invest more in my reconnection journey as a Métis woman. I had always wanted to know more about our culture and family history- learn to bead, learn to jig, learn our language. I always knew we were Métis, but was discouraged from talking about it or asking too many questions. When I was growing up, our family still carried a great deal of shame around our Indigeneity, but I am so immensely proud of the work we have done as a family in recent years to reconnect with our Métis community and begin to carry our heritage with pride.
I am immensely grateful to the Elders, Knowledge Keepers, and community members who have been so encouraging and who continue to support me in this journey. I would like to express particular love and appreciation for my dear friend and mentor Valerie Planche, Natalie Pepin and the Meeting my Ancestors community, Matt MacKenzie and the members of the Pemmican Collective, and of course the Catalyst team who have been so welcoming to me as this year’s Confluence Fellow. Kinanaskomitawâw, I’m so grateful to you all.
We’re thrilled to announce our newest Confluence artist, Danielle LaRose! Danielle is a multi-talented Métis artist who brings a wide breadth of training, experience, and personal history to her storytelling.
The Catalyst staff along with our panelists, Patricia Darbasie, Christine Frederick, and Gordie Lucius were enthralled by Danielle's thoughtfulness, epic ideas, and passionate process. We were excited about her proposed project, and how Confluence could support the journey of this work. The panel was enthusiastic about her commitment to exploring creative style and offering her creative gifts in service of her communities.
During her tenure as the 2023/2024 Catalyst Theatre Confluence Fellow, she will be working on her play The Poisoner's Daughter, which delves into the LaRose family history, dating back to 1880:
"A wide prairie horizon. A storm rumbling in the distance. A cold wind blowing through dry grasses, carrying with it the howls of wolves, the sighs of a fiddle, and the voices of ancestors long since passed.
The harsh weather closes in around a one-room cabin- once a warm family home, now derelict with innumerable generations of neglect. The walls are lined with shelves containing jars of various substances. Some glow. Some rattle. Some hum in readiness. At the centre of the room is a table on which is laid a simple wooden coffin. The prairie skies darken and suddenly, in a flash of lightning and burst of thunder, the coffin lid rises and the corpse of a Métis woman emerges.
The Poisoner’s Daughter is a Métis prairie-gothic story based on my own family history and the long-buried story of my three-times-great-grandmother Hélène LaRose née Bouvette. It exposes the erasure of women in Métis communities as a major device of the colonial agenda and encourages us to access blood memory as a way to resurrect these Grandmothers and their stories. It also exposes the process of reconnection as complicated, messy, even gruesome at times, but one which ultimately puts us on the path towards healing and empowers us to reclaim our culture, our community, our stories and ourselves in the spirit of kwayskahstahsowin- setting things right."
- Danielle LaRose
PAST CONFLUENCE ARTISTS
Sue Goberdhan (she/her) is an Indo-Caribbean performer, arts administrator, advocate, playwright, and collaborator. She has dedicated her career to advocating for the revitalization of the foundation of Edmonton’s theatre community to include and celebrate the stories and voices of people from marginalized communities.
CHUMP shines a light on the way that the Guyanese culture embraces grief and truly celebrates the lives of loved ones lost. The tradition in Guyanese culture is to play cards at almost every event, but it would be considered almost sacrilege not to play cards specifically when mourning the loss of a loved one.
Our game is called T’ruup Chaal (pronounced cha-rup ch’all). CHUMP tells the story of a family playing a game, and how the game mirrors their lives in unexpected, but telling, ways.
Berend McKenzie (he/she/they interchangeably) is an award-winning playwright, actor, producer, screenwriter, and published author living on Treaty 6 land, otherwise known as Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Berend is best known for their ground-breaking, Jessie Richardson Award nominated one-person show NGGRFG, and the outrageous award-winning queer puppet show for adults Get Off the Cross, Mary! Berend is a 2021 inductee in the Writers’ Guild of Alberta’s Mentorship Program where they began writing their auto-fiction novel Adopted. They are excited to be invited into the inaugural year of the Warner Media Global X Global Access Writers Program.
In The Centre
Inspired by real people and events, In The Center is the story of Eduardo (Mexican, 30-35), an ill, clean and sober, ex-drag queen and landed immigrant from Mexico who’s admitted into a support home for people living with AIDS-related illnesses. Eduardo meets a crusty, no-nonsense nurse named Peter, who challenges Eduardo’s perceptions of life while forcing him to face his mortality.
TIA ASHLEY KUSHNIRUK
Tia Ashley Kushniruk is a Queer Woman of Chinese-Eastern European settler heritage from the Treaty 6 Territory of Edmonton AB. Since 2013 she has been affiliated with the Cirque Du Soleil and is a frequent collaborator of Jake W. Hastey for Toy Guns Dance Theatre (Edmonton). She graduated from The School of Toronto Dance Theatre (STDT) in 2017, receiving the Kathryn Ash Scholarship in 2016.
b/d/a OR The Race Play OR ‘I can’t believe I did a racism! (In my head)’
A Physical-theatre Play co-written by Tia Ashley Kushniruk, Shammy (Shamsa) Belmore, Jocelyn Mah, and Clarke Blair.
This work follows three characters in a perfect sitcom world solving a problem with rent when the actors begin switching roles and ultimately reveal the racial biases underneath each said character, and between each other, culminating in a posed question to the audience – “What would you do?”