I popped down to Toronto on the train last night (a mere five hours), and now I’m popping back to Montréal, after really rather a great day in a city I got to know well four years ago, when I was doing The Handmaid’s Tale for Canadian Opera. It was even the same time of year, so I shouldn’t have been surprised by Toronto’s Indian summer. Yvette Nolan, AD of Native Earth, bought me a coffee, and we sat outside at a pavement café in the Distillery district, and talked about Origins.
I’m very keen on Daniel David Moses’ play Almighty Voice and His Wife, which Native Earth are reviving in the spring, and we plot to bring the production to London. Yvette seems confident about money from her end, and we print out and sign an official invitation letter there and then. She tells me the biggest challenge of running even this most established of First Nations companies is casting. As soon as a First Nations actor gets any notice, they are instantly devoured by the TV and film industries. You can hardly blame them – the money’s so much better, and so is the kudos. But you can’t help feeling that it’s only in spaces like Native Earth that these actors can be sure they are representing their nations accurately and with an appropriate political energy – at least in the current cultural climate.
I squeeze in a lunchtime visit to a theatre bookshop to get some more of Moses’ scripts to read, before a relaxing and stimulating afternoon with Wayne Strongman and Tom Diamond from Tapestry Opera. Wayne and I got on well when I was here before – I gave a talk to their conductors and directors lab – and we’ve been in fleeting contact ever since. Today we talk very speculatively about possible projects we could collaborate on. Great to range around like this, and to talk with no specific agenda. It allows us to explore the real reasons why we’re doing the sort of work we are.
And now I’m back on the train. It has wireless – of a sort… It keeps coming and going.