VIU instructors discuss cultural suppression

Eliza Gardiner and Laura Cranmer focus on the power of local and global indigenous performance traditions

Two Vancouver Island University professors look at why colonizing powers suppress cultural expressions of the people invaded during a lecture Friday (March 9).

Theatre studies instructor Eliza Gardiner and First Nations studies instructor Laura Cranmer focus on the power of local and global indigenous performance traditions as part of the arts and humanities colloquium series.

Specific to Canada, the teachers discuss what the state saw as the threat in potlach performance traditions.

The Canadian state, heavily influenced by missionaries and Indian agents, made a futile attempt to suppress the potlatch practised along the entire northwest coast.

In the history of the performing arts, government suppression of theatre has posed a consistent threat to production themes and performance styles.

In the evolution of the Western European theatre tradition, which finds its roots in the much celebrated tragedies and comedies of the ancient Greeks, power wielded over performance art by state authority has been a consistent force with which playwrights and performers have had to reckon.

This presentation will offer information on the suppressive acts of arts-domination in Europe and Canada with an overview of the western theatrical traditions; the discussion also includes how these global patterns of cultural suppression were applied to indigenous peoples in Canada’s early colonial history.

Cranmer and Gardiner have teamed up to generate a presentation that focuses on the suppression of the performance arts, offering an opportunity to discuss such tactics as the restricting of classical plays in medieval Europe, the closing-down of theatres in Puritan England, the ostracizing of actors, the excluding of performing artists, and the general control by governments over artistic expression.

At the same time, attention will be paid to the durability of the ongoing practice of indigenous performances.

The lecture begins at 10 a.m. in Malaspina Theatre. Admission is free.