At its 31th Annual Conference in Portland, OR, LMDA presented the Elliott Hayes Award for Outstanding Achievement in Dramaturgy to Sarah Garton Stanley.

The Elliott Hayes Award recognizes exemplary contributions by dramaturgs in the Americas to the conception, development and production of theatre or to educational projects in dramaturgy. Stanley, who is the Associate Artistic Director of English Theatre at Canada’s National Arts Centre in Ottawa, was honored for her dramaturgical work on The Cycle, a three-part investigation of the body of theatrical work created by Indigenous artists in Canada.

The Cycle: comprised of The Summit, The Study, and The Repast, engaged deeply with Indigenous Theatre and helped to shed light on and enshrine the Indigenous Body of Work. The Summit, which took place in April 2014, saw the gathering of leaders from the Indigenous performance community with institutional ‘listeners’ from across Canada and Australia, to engage in a dialogue about the body of Indigenous work in Canada.

In May 2015, upwards of 45 Indigenous leaders, artists, and students from across the country gathered at Debajehmujig’s creation space, on Manitoulin Island, for The Study. There they focused on readings from the Indigenous Body of Work and dove into existing practice in studio and workshop environments. The Repast, a culminating immersive and performative event to The Cycle, brought together over 100 additional professionals from the national theatre community to share in the findings at The Study.

The project’s aim was to impact broadly on programming choices being made by theatres across Canada, and to offer vital and necessary steps towards bringing Indigenous approaches and stories closer to the center of Canada’s theatrical and, by extension, national identity. “A central result,” writes Stanley “was to learn deep lessons about the nature of power in art making.” The Cycle happened in collaboration with a number of cultural organizations, including The Indigenous Performing Arts Alliance, The Banff Centre, Luminato and Debajehmujig Storytellers and many others.

In her letter of recommendation, Yvette Nolan, co-curator The Summit/Study Cycle on Indigenous Theatre, said: “[Sarah] has been visionary in that she has seen what is not there and worked to make it visible, make room for it. Along the way, she has worked to educate herself, to seek out and listen to the teachings. Then she holds all that knowledge and makes it available and visible to her colleagues in the National Arts Centre and the national theatre scene. She practices a radical inclusion.”

Stephen Colella, LMDA’s Vice President of Programs, said of the project: “Sarah was able to marshal the resources of a large institution in order to make it an ally in the effort to make visible that which is not yet seen enough - the stories and traditions and Canada's First Nations theatre artists. While the full scope of the outcome of The Cycle is not yet known, the change it has helped to create at the National Arts Centre with the creation of the Indigenous Theatre section is an incredibly important first step.”

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