MANITOWANING—The current cover of the prestigious theatre trade magazine Canadian Theatre Review contains some very familiar figures: the iconic symbol of Paris, the Eiffel Tower and Debajehmujig’s own Global Savages. The cover story is an interview with Debaj’s artistic director Joe Osawabine and executive director Ron Berti by University of Toronto professor Barry Freeman. It’s a nice way to begin the company’s 30th anniversary year.
Mr. Osawabine noted that Debajehmujig does not consider the Global Savages as a performance piece anymore, but rather the name refers to a multi-faceted project that comprises many different aspects. “We are still in the process of defining it,” he said.
“The production is different every time we take it to the stage,” continued the artistic director. That isn’t any kind of accident. “Part of what the Global Savages is about we call the ‘Global Savages intervention.’ That is us exploring the territory of where we are.”
Getting to know the places and people where the Global Savages will be telling their story in advance informs how the story will be told and even what stories the troupe will decide to tell when they later take to the more formal stage. “We spend a week in the community and use that week to learn about the community, where they are at,” he said.
The Global Savages has travelled all across the globe bringing their unique project into interactions and collaborations with other communities. They will be travelling to Rotterdam, The Netherlands for the International Storytelling Festival later this spring for 11 days of theatre. This will be a reprise visit to the festival for the troupe.
“The last time we were there, we were pretty early on in our understanding of what the Global Savages could be,” said Mr. Osawabine. This time the methodology of what is the Global Savages is more clearly defined and the cast and crew are excited about bringing it to the international stage he explained.
The troupe will also be joining their Scottish partners the Glasgow Citizen’s Theatre at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in late July for a five-week stay.
Things around the Manitowaning Creation Centre are really hopping these days as Debajehmujig is also currently working on a number of projects not directly related to the Global Savages. “We are working on three projects for the Wikwemikong Health Centre,” said Mr. Osawabine. One of the projects centres on the ‘Sweet Surrender’ custom performance about diabetes that Debaj created for the health centre last year. “I created a documentary on the project and now we are putting together a video performance for the health centre as a resource material for them to use in diabetes education.”
Other projects include creating ‘infomercials’ for each department of the health centre and one that will follow a similar treatment as ‘Sweet Surrender’ to the subject of cancer.
Evansville clown artist and his partner are reprising their Canadian classic Mump and Smoot and they will will be performing at the Debajehmujig creation Centre in March as well, said Mr. Osawabine, “In February we have another edition of the Café Scientific taking place.”
Another exciting project in the works is the collaboration with animator Carmen Maracle to build an animation studio at the Creation Centre where an animated film will be created. The great part of this project is that once the animation feature is completed, Debajehmujig will have an animation studio as part of their facility infrastructure.