I’ve been blessed when it comes to my theatre career. I didn’t attend college, and my career began when I started creating stories with Chukalokoli Native Theater Ensemble. We were a devised theatre ensemble, and it was a lot of fun, but I realized I craved writing my own stories. I was lucky enough to have the support and trust of experienced theatre professionals who believed in my work. Essentially, I came to playwriting from the side door because people held it open for me.
So, it’s probably not a surprise that when I joined the Guild, it was for a cosmetic reason. I qualified! I am a professional playwright! Here’s my badge of honor! I had finally proved to myself and others that I was to be taken seriously as a professional dramatist! This is my Guild! This is my number!
And for a couple of years, that’s what membership was for me. I had a card that proved I was a working dramatist. However, when a small theatre company tried to hold on to producing rights for one of my plays for five years, I discovered all the excellent resources the Guild offers. I didn’t know the customary or accepted standards in the industry, however, that five-year lockdown seemed wrong. The Guild showed me that it was a predatory practice and not expected. After that, I discovered that the Guild offers so many educational resources. I found artistic courses led by playwrights at the top of their game and classes on business practices and finance, so I could learn how to function as a professional playwright. They even have rehearsal space.
One of the great strengths of Indigenous theatre is that we always operate as a community. That is the source of our strength and resiliency. It took a minute for me to realize that the Guild is not a status symbol but another source of community. A place where I can go and share my struggle with other playwrights and theateremakers and come out stronger. The Guild is another artistic home. ●