Celebrated Indigenous Canadian playwright joins Dramatic Arts

Award-winning Canadian playwright Matthew MacKenzie, citizen of the Métis Nation of Alberta, is bringing his rich and diverse theatre experience to Brock.

Drawing on his years of involvement as a playwright and Artistic Director of Punctuate! Theatre, an Indigenous-led theatre company in Edmonton which frequently tours nationally, MacKenzie is bringing his practical experience as a theatre professional to the classroom as the University’s newest Dramatic Arts (DART) faculty member.

Linda Carreiro, Professor of Visual Arts and Associate Dean of Fine and Performing Arts at Brock’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA), said that MacKenzie’s leadership in theatre and social justice across Canada will complement and contribute to the great work already being done in Dramatic Arts.

“We are fortunate to welcome such an important playwright to MIWSFPA, one whose work shines a light on critical subjects and events, often from an unexamined perspective,” Carreiro said.

Alongside his wife, award-winning Ukrainian actor Mariya Khomutova, MacKenzie recently received three awards at the 23rd annual Dora Mavor Moore Awards for his new play First Métis Man of Odesa, which has been met with critical acclaim across the country. The production was honoured with Outstanding Production, Outstanding New Play and Outstanding Direction in the Independent Theatre category at Canada’s oldest and largest professional theatre awards celebrating excellence on the stage.

Written and performed by MacKenzie and Khomutova, and based on real-life events, the play follows the romance of a Canadian playwright and Ukrainian artist who meet in Kyiv. Set against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic and the onset of war in Ukraine, audiences are brought along on their journey through significant life events, including their marriage and birth of their son.

“It felt good to be writing something so current,” said MacKenzie. “We are thrilled it was so warmly received by audiences as it is a deeply personal story, and we were happily surprised to win a few Doras.”

MacKenzie, who will be touring his play through the fall before teaching Indigenous Theatre at Brock in January 2024, said he is excited to engage in creative work with the University’s students.

“Students now want to set their education, and the world they are entering, on a different path than when I went through theatre school. The conversations being had now around equity are quite inspiring,” he said.

MacKenzie’s teaching perspective is shaped by his work done as an independent theatre creator, reflecting current shifts in the theatre industry with increasing numbers of artists building their own companies from the ground up and securing their own funding.

“This is really thrilling to me from an equity standpoint because in the independent theatre model people have agency. Creating these new pathways for future theatre artists is very exciting to me; I am so happy to be a part of it,” MacKenzie said.

Carreiro added that she looks forward to the work that will emerge over the coming years, “especially amplifying theatre study and practice through an Indigenous lens.”

Read more stories in: Faculty & staff, Humanities, News
Tagged with: , , , ,