A Casual Reconstruction (2015) is a dialogic text originating from a recorded conversation between a group of six culturally-mixed individuals about the challenges of identifying as Aboriginal people. These personal oral histories are read as a play, by non-aboriginal people who operate as avatars for the audience. Attributes of race, gender and age are ignored. Having people re-enact a conversation while obfuscating notions of authenticity creates distinction, forcing the audience to engage in active and reflective listening; while their own identity construct oscillates, they identify with the non-aboriginal performers and the characters simultaneously.
A Casual (strikethrough) Reconstruction (2017) is an interdisciplinary evolution resulting from a collaboration between two old friends: visual artist Nadia Myre and theatre artist Johanna Nutter. Both have questions about ancestry; blood mysteries. Together, they explore the uncomfortable feelings around being native and/or non-native.
It was first staged in Montreal, at OFFTA in June, 2017, as part of Onishka's Indigenous Contemporary Scene. They used a 15-minute edit of the gallery piece, inviting participants directly from the audience for a spontaneous re-enactment. Aware of the formalizing nature of theatre, the artists added the strikethrough, further illustrating this formality by interviewing each other on their process using a single microphone, passed back and forth as a kind of talking stick. They also introduced a typist, inviting a different local writer for each performance to record the interview "for official purposes". The writer was actually instructed to engage in a stream-of-consciousness response on a ribbonless typewriter with a sheet of carbon placed between two pieces of paper. The reveal of this "official recording" closed the evening.
With support from the MAI (Montreal Arts Interculturels) Johanna and Nadia are developing an 80-minute piece, expanding on what they've created to include a playful exchange of identity markers, histories, rituals, and legacies; while also investigating the strange and/or familiar aspects of each other’s disciplines.
A 30-minute version, which includes two performers, one invited local writer, and the participation of six audience members is available now. Nadia and Johanna are hoping to present it in tandem with a residency to further development of the expanded piece, with a projected tour in 2019/20. The project was invited to pitch at the PuSh Festival in January 2018, and will be presented as part of the Phenomena Festival in Montreal on October 17th 2018, and as an ELAN showcase during CINARS on November 14th 2018. In June 2019, a full version will première at ORIGINS in London.
Both versions are offered in English, French, and Bilingually.