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Theatre of Myth

Our very own Greek

For centuries the indigenous peoples had their own stories, legends and rituals at once existential, rich, powerful and intrinsically connected to their spirituality. In the context of modern society, these myths, once passed on by oral tradition, run the risk of being lost. From its beginnings Ondinnok has aspired to reappropriate these fundamental stories and to give them contemporary life through the theatre.

We don’t attempt to reassemble the ancient Aboriginal theatre ritual but rather to reinvent it by integrating its traditional rites-of-passage with modernity. Our theatre strives to escape subservience and mediocrity, it challenges empty words, it is a place to strip bare. We wish to examine our roots and rediscover our ancestors and their forgotten rituals. ˆ –Yves Sioui Durand

To hear anew the heart of the earth

For the founders of Ondinnok, the duty to memory and to its ‘passing on’ is an obligation, a first step in retrieving the dignity and self-awareness of the Aboriginal peoples. Thirty years ago, the acculturation of Aboriginal peoples was such that an element as essential to the indigenous cultures as the drum was still considered to be an instrument of the devil.

Ondinnok’s approach is also a response to the need and desire of Aboriginal peoples take their place in contemporary theatre practice. By reconnecting the world of the living to the world of the spirit and the ancestors and by integrating traditions of rites-of-passage with contemporary theatre practice, we contribute to a collective affirmation ˆ- a new dawn after so many years of forgetting and suffering.

This dramaturgy poses a fundamental question: what is the place of indigenous peoples in America today?

As if it was negligible, the rich history of the Native American peoples is poorly known and their ties that date back to the Aztecs through the traditional corn cultivated by the all the indigenous cultures of the Americas. It is a long chain and we can take part of it, and I think, in the end, we impoverish ourselves by forgetting our ties too easily. – Catherine Joncas

 

Artistic approach

The creation process for each of our productions relies on a long period of research. To reappropriate these myths one must know the foundations and the codes. From all over the Americas, Yves Sioui Durand, in particular, has studied these fundamental stories often collected by missionaries, travellers and anthropologists. In the course of these productions, Ondinnok has also created special unique ties with many Aboriginal communities from here and elsewhere and has rediscovered the tracks to and the vitality of this other way of seeing and reading the world.

In these works, symbols are everywhere and omnipresent; they are the evidence of the forgotten past. The settings are constructed from basic natural elements: fire burning in the night, water gushing forth from falls, corn covering the earth and wood creaking in the wind. Not to be forgotten are the stones, the ‘mushums’, the ancestors. Everything recalls the sacred relation between man and nature that unites all Aboriginal people with the Earth. The staging is punctuated by chants, drums, mythic figures and sacred grasses. The great masks incarnate the ancestors coming to life on stage and projecting us into their vast time frame. The audience is not only there as an observer but, through the scenography, is plunged completely into the theatrical ritual becoming themselves an element within the production.

This theatrical approach aims at recapturing an imagination, a mental space, a dream land, to bring back a memory, to liberate a future, to rediscover in one civilisation through ancient signs its sense of ritual drama or sacred theatre. This approach deserves all our admiration and collaboration. ˆ -André-G. Bourassa, Le Devoir, 1991.