Nurturing A Season
Neworld Theatre’s 2022-2023 Season Note by Interim Artistic Director, Christine Quintana:
When I was growing up, our backyard was glorious. Dahlias and hostas, ferns and tomatoes, shaded by what they call ‘volunteer trees’, which sprouted, unsupervised, in odd corners of the garden. An abundance of lush, verdant life right outside my bedroom window.
My favorite part of planting season was the trip to the garden store. Armed with pencil sketches of the floral glories to come, we would fill our shopping carts with seedlings nestled in plastic containers. We’d unload our Volvo station wagon, leaving the trunk smelling of earth and big plans.
As soon as the seasons began to turn, I dreamed of riding the shopping cart through the aisles of the garden store greenhouse – but there was work to be done first. After a long wet winter, the beds needed some love. We would clear out the husks of last year’s plants, now skeletal or mushy. Turn the earth over, sometimes digging so deep as to uncover clay-packed fossils from nearby Trout Lake – a reminder of what was there before us. Shovel loads of stinky manure into our tarp-lined backseat to fertilize the soil, replacing the rain-leached nutrients. Re-trim the edges of the garden beds, biting through the encroaching sod with a sharp spade. Hard work, messy, meticulous, before the satisfaction of filling the empty spaces.
We can’t expect our creative grounds to bloom without the necessary work of preparing the earth. That is the focus of our next theatre season. Before we can launch into the mammoth work of responding to the turbulent times we’re in, we need to take stock. Weed our creative practices of things harmful or no longer useful; fertilize our community with learning and cultivation; make plans for our big dreams to blossom. There is much to be done.
This season we’ll be feeding our creative communities and practices; through the Training Critical Futures Program; through our work fulfilling the Black Pledge; through the LEAD program, and through a hosted mentorship between puppeteers Shizuka Kai and Ana Lorena Pérez. We’ll continue weeding our practices as we embark on year two of the Balancing Act project and articulating our Framework of Care, fostering a healthy and supportive workplace. And we’ll start dreaming of our garden to come, as we continue development of our commissions: Tumulx by Quelemia Sparrow and Fat Joke by Cheyenne Roleau. We will even see a few first blooms – Division Infinity Saves The World by Matt Clarke, Shizuka Kai, and Keely O’Brien, which will premiere at the Vancouver Children’s Festival in 2023, and Earth Case Scenario, our one-night-only evening of climate art and action. While there might not always be much to see above ground just yet, there is so much still to come when the sun starts to shine.
When I remember the smell of wet earth, the feeling of boredom as I stood watering empty beds, I remember my impatience. How much I wanted flowers now. With time, that impatience has given way to a greater understanding of how we need to respect the earth we cultivate if we expect a return. How the extractive attitudes towards these unceded Indigenous lands we live on have led us to dark places – and how a greater understanding of reciprocity, in relationship to plants and humans alike, will be the light that leads us out.
We are grateful to do our work on the unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh Nations, and are ready to fulfill our responsibilities to the people and to the land. This season, we have our shovels out, gardening gloves on, manure in the backseat. Hand to earth, hand to heart, ready to make something good on the beautiful promise of this theatre community, and the beautiful lands beneath our feet.