Mohawk/Anishinaabe producer Kim Wheeler has brought together a line-up of acclaimed artists to present panels, plays, music and keynote speeches this week in The Bridge: A Festival of Ideas.
The free online event at the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre aims to offer Indigenous conversations to Canadian audiences and runs March 18-21.
Wheeler said she wanted to make her production easier for audiences to digest and said the experience The Bridge offers is like “being a fly on the wall between two people who have a real understanding of what it’s like to be an Indigenous person in this country.”
“It’s going to give non-Indigenous audiences a real insight into the kinds of conversations that we have with our own friends and family.”
Wheeler, a former CBC producer, brought together a network of Indigenous movers and shakers for the event both in front of and behind the scenes.
Saulteaux/Trinidiadian actor Ryan Black, best known for his role in the 1994 movie Dance Me Outside, worked alongside Wheeler to co-ordinate an event he hopes will also create a bridge between young people.
“It’s digital, it’s online, it’s connected,” said Black.
“We are entering a phase where we are beginning — as theatre people, as journalists, as film and television people — to reach out into the venues that young people are actually engaging [with].”
Anishinaabe playwright Frances Koncan hosted a panel called Theatre Matriarchs, the first up on the schedule.
In an interview with CBC Radio’s Up to Speed, Koncan said her biggest takeaway from it was “we’ve come really, really far, in theatre especially, but I think it can extend to . . . Canada as a whole.”
The Bridge: A Festival of Ideas is available for free in Canada and the productions are captioned for accessibility to the deaf community.
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