De-ba-jeh-mu-jig Theatre Group

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Debajehmujig / De-ba-jeh-mu-jig - Storytellers (or informally as Debaj) is a First Nations theatre group based on Wikwemikong Unceded Indian Reserve on Manitoulin Island in Northern Ontario.

History[edit]

De-ba-jeh-mu-jig is from the Ojibwe (debaajimoojig) and Cree (tepācimūcik), both meaning "storytellers". De-ba-jeh-mu-jig grew out of West Bay (now known as M'Chigeeng) Children's Theatre which was founded by Shirley Cheechoo. In 1981, Cheechoo was asked to "host the theatre part of the festival {of sharing}".[1] Presently, the company plays throughout Canada under its Outreach program. The company was established so that "Native youth be given the opportunity to see themselves and their lives reflected on the stage, in the characters, in the stories, in the experiences portrayed." [2]

Cheechoo was artistic director from 1983/1984 "until {in the later 1980s} it went to Wiky {Wikwemikong Unceded Indian Reserve}".[1]

The theatre has a strong history of community involvement. Shirley Cheechoo has stated that "usually every time we did some kind of workshop or even if it was in writing we would do a reading just to show the community what we were doing. Wa walsy[who?] wanted to show the community exactly what the theatre was developing at the time"[1]

The theatre strives to "bridge" the urban and rural, native and non-native communities and artists, traditional and contemporary forms of expression.[3]

Its repertoire generally presents plays reflecting Native culture, and tours Canada. Shirley Cheechoo, talking about touring, suggests that

it's very wise to tour because most of the issues and situations that happen on one reserve are happening on every reserve. I thought it would be best to share what come up with other communities[1]

The theatre's mandate, which was changed in 1993 by its board of directors, states that Debaj "is a professional community based non-profit organization dedicated to the vitalization of the Anishnaabeg Culture, Language and Heritage, through education and the sharing of original creative expression with Native and Non-Native people."[3]

Debaj is one of two professional Native theatres in Ontario and is the longest running Native theatre in North America.

Current Core Staff 2011/2012[edit]

Title Name
Executive Director/Artistic Producer Ron Berti
Artistic Director - Theatre Joseph Osawabine
Artistic Director - School Bruce Naokwegijig
Administrative Director - School Joahnna Berti
Director of Technology Chris Deforge
Cultural Community Liaison Audrey Wemigwans
Costume/Fashion Manager Carolyn Deforge
Finance Manager Sharlene MacDonald
Shop Manager Ashley Manitowabi
Lighting/Sound Director David Osawabine
Visual Arts Director Josh Peltier
IT Manager Justin Deforge

Production archives[edit]

2008
  • TURNIP DAY – JIIS GIIZHIGAT
Creation Team: Bruce Naokwegijig, Ron Berti, Jonathan Fisher, Vanessa Ominika, Jessica Wilde, Tabitha Peltier, Matthew Manitowabi, Joe Osawabine, Josh Peltier & Joahnna Berti
Director: Bruce Naokwegijig with Ron Berti
Costumes: Bill Shawanda
Set construction: Ashley Manitowabi
Musical Support: Gregory Hoskins
Props: Josh Peltier, Ashley Manitowabi
Performers: Jonathan Fisher, Vanessa Ominika, Jessica Wilde, Tabitha Peltier, Matthew Manitowabi with Joe Osawabine, Josh Peltier & Bruce Naokwegijig
Note: Mainstage production performed at the Holy Cross Mission Ruins, Wikwemikong, Ontario
  • Norval – A Born Artist – A New Creation by De-ba-jeh-mu-jig Theatre Group based on the life and times of Norval Morrisseau
Director: Joe Osawabine
Creative Consultant: Ron Berti
Costumes: Bill Shawanda
Musical Support: Gregory Hoskins
Technical Assistance: David (Sunny) Osawabine & Barry Beaver
Creation Team/Performers: Joe Osawabine, Joahnna Berti, Matthew Manitowabi, Josh Peltier, Bill Shawanda, Gregory Hoskins, Jessica Wilde, Ron Berti & Kristen Wakegijig
Note: Performed at the Red Lake Woodland Arts Festival, Red Lake, Ontario
2007
  • The Gulch
Creation Team: John Turner, Joe Osawabine, Elisha Sidlar, Matthew Manitowabi, Josh Peltier, Ron Berti, Bruce Naokwegijig & Joahnna Berti
Director: John Turner
Costume Design: Bill Shawanda
Set Design: Josh Peltier
Set construction Consultant: Gino Cacciotti
Performers: Joe Osawabine, Elisha Sidlar, Matthew Manitowabi, Josh Peltier, Bruce Naokwegijig, and Tabitha Peltier
2006
  • Biidaasigekwe – Sunlight Woman
Adapted for the stage by Ron Berti
Co-directors: Ron Berti and Joe Osawabine
Costume Design: Bill Shawanda
Performers: Violet (Rosa) Burke-Pitawanakwat, Dan Czech, Bernadette Eshkawkogan, Meegwun Fairbrother, Eli Kavanaugh, Joshua Peltier & Jessica Wilde
Note: Based on Anishnaabeg Texts by Angeline Williams
2005
  • The Indian Affairs
Creation Team: Joe Osawabine, Elisha Sidlar and Ron Berti with Shelagh Hughes, Eli Kavanaugh, Kotnee, Tammy Manitowabi-Shawanda, Doreen Peltier, Josh Peltier & Evelyn Roy
Set Design: Ron Berti
Costume Design: Bill Shawanda
Performers: Shelagh Hughes, Eli Kavanaugh, Kotnee, Tammy Manitowabi-Shawanda, Joe Osawabine, Doreen Peltier, Josh Peltier, Evelyn Roy & Elisha Sidlar
2004/2005
  • Billy – Cultural Adaptation by De-ba-jeh-mu-jig Theatre Group
Written by: Chris Craddock
Performers: Eli Kavanaugh, Ashley Manitowabi, Joe Osawabine, Brenda Peeteetuce & Elisha Sidlar
2004
  • Your Dream Was Mine
Written by Shirley Cheechoo and Greta Cheechoo
Director: Kate Lushington
Set Design: Peter Jones
Costume Design: Bill Shawanda
Stage Management: Jeff Trudeau
Performers: Tina Louise Bomberry, Gloria May Eshkibok & Gregory Dominic Odjig
  • The Gift
Story & Teachings by Eddie King
Additional writing and Dramaturgy by Joe Osawabine, Elisha Sidlar, and Paula Wing
Masks by Theo Dragonieri
Performers: Joe Osawabine, Elisha Sidlar & Jimy Sidlar-Bebonang
  • The Promise – Original Dance
Director/Writer/Choreographer: Karen Pheasant
Performers: Nyla Carpentier, Michelle Elliot & Elizabeth Trudeau
2003
  • A Trickster’s Tale
Written by Tomson Highway
Director: John Turner
Set Design: Peter Jones
Costume Design: Bill Shawanda
Performers: Cameron Courtoreille, Bruce Naokwegijig, Joe Osawabine & Elisha Sidlar
2002
  • Ever! That Nanabush! – Tour
Director: Bruce Naokwegijig
Costume Design: Bill Shawanda
Performers: Sharon King, Joe Osawabine, Elisha Sidlar & Chris Wemigwans
Note: Adaptation of Traditional Stories as retold by Daphne Odjig
  • Ever! That Nanabush!
Director: Bruce Naokwegijig
Costume Design: Bill Shawanda
Set Design: Joe Osawabine
Performers: Cameron Courtorielle, Ralph Courtorielle, Sharon King, Tammy Manitowabi, Elisha Sidlar & Chris Wemigwans
Note: Adaptation of Traditional Stories as retold by Daphne Odjig
2001/2002
  • The Dreaming Beauty – Tour
Written by Daniel David Moses
Adapted for the Stage by Director: Barbara Poggemiller 2001
Remount Director: Joe Osawabine 2002
Performers: Rachell Arbez, Ralph Courtorielle, Sharon King, Joe Osawabine, Angie Pitawanakwat, Harmony Rice, Kira Sandel, Michaela Washburn & Amy White
2001
  • New World Brave – Remount A Group Creation
Director: David Skelton with John Turner
Performers: Cameron Courtorielle, Raistlen Jones, Bruce Naokwegijig, Joe Osawabine & Chris Wemigwans
2000
  • The Dreaming Beauty
Adapted for the stage by Director: Barbara Poggemiller
Performers: Gregor Jacko, Tamara Podemski, Crystal Lynn Shawanda & Michaela Washburn
Note: Based on the story by Daniel David Moses
  • New World Brave
Director: David Skelton with Alejandro Ronceria, Eddie King and Deanna Sager
Performers: James Bear, Cameron Courtorielle, Raistlen Jones, Lamech Kadloo, Bruce Naokwegijig, Joe Osawabine & Chris Wemigwans
Note: Millennium Project – A group creation of Inuk, Woodlands Ojibwe, Odawa, Potawatomi, Woodlands Cree, Innu and Metis Artists
1999
  • Toronto@dreamersrock.com – Tour
Written by Drew Hayden Taylor
Director: Audrey Debassige, Assistant Director: Bossy Ducharme
Performers: Bruce Naokwegijig, Greg Odjig & Joe Osawabine
  • Toronto At Dreamer’s Rock
Written by Drew Hayden Taylor
Director: Audrey Debassige
Performers: Bruce Naokwegijig, Gregory Dominic Odjig & Joe Osawabine
Note: 10th anniversary production at the Holy Cross Mission Ruins, Wikwemikong, Ontario
  • Toronto@dreamersrock.com
Written by Drew Hayden Taylor
Director: Jonathan Fisher
Performers: Bossy Ducharme, Jeffrey Eshkawkogan & Billy Shawanda
Note: World Premiere
1998/1999
  • The Jerry Jessie Jones Show
Director: Ron Berti – 1998
Director: Joe Osawabine – 1999
Performers: Adrian Gabrylewicz, Sandra Iles, Joe Osawabine, Bill Shawanda & Crystal Lynn Shawanda
Note: A Collective Creation - The Best Medicine Troupe and Family Life Theatre
1998
  • Please Do Not Touch The Indians
Written by Joseph A. Dandurand
Director: Ron Bert, Assistant Director: Joe Osawabine
Set Design: Karin Jones
Performers: Jeffrey Eshkawkogan, Elijah Kavannaugh, Joe Osawabine, Brandy Peltier & Shandra Spears
  • Sky – An Aboriginal Cross-Cultural Dance Drama
Director: David Skelton
Performers: Darryl Bolton, Malaya Kango, Jayson Mablick, Tahnee Manitowabi, Bruce Naokwegijig, Gregory Odjig & Peter Tuesday
Note: A Collaborated Creation by members of the T’simshian, Inuit, and Ojibwe Nations
1997/1998
  • Biidaasigekwe - Sunlight Woman – Tour
Director: Ron Berti
Performers: Sally Atchitiwens, Faith Ann Manitowabi, Mary Lou Manitowabi, Bruce Naokwegijig, Gregory Odjig, : Joe Osawabine, Kevin Peltier, Sophie Pheasant, Shandra Spears & Peter Tuesday
Note: Based on Anishnaabeg Texts by Angeline Williams, Adapted for the Stage by Ron Berti
1996/1997
  • Broken Snowshoe Moon – Tours
Written by Amie Lynn Ominika
Director: Shirley Cheechoo – 1996
Remount Director: Audrey Debassige – 1997
Performers: Levi Aguonie, Greta Cheechoo, Walter Mejaki, Bruce Naokwegijig, Joe Osawabine, Billy Shawanda & Bertha Trudeau
  • Lost Warrior
Written by Darrel Manitowabi
Directors: Shirley Cheechoo – 1996
Remount Director: Audrey Debassige – 1997
Performers: Levi Aguonie, Greta Cheechoo, Walter Mejaki, Bruce Naokwegijig, Joe Osawabine, Billy Shawanda & Bertha Trudeau
1996
  • The Best Medicine Show – A Collective Creation
Director: Enio Mascherin & Vinetta Strombergs
Performers: Justine Enosse, Jeffrey Eshkawkogan, Francis Kaboni, Karen Manitowabi, Mary Lou Manitowabi, Bruce Naokwegijig, Gregory Dominic Odjig, Joe Osawabine, Genevieve Peltier, Joshua Peltier, Kevin Peltier, Leroy Peltier, Sophie Pheasant, Violet (Rosa) Pitawanakwat, Joni Roy & Marilyn Roy
1995
  • Lupi, The Great White Wolf – Remount Tour
Written by Esther Jacko
Director: Alanis King-Odjig & Alejandro Ronceria
Set Design: Stephan Droege
Costume Design: Linda Leon
Performers: Justine Enosse, Gloria Eshkibok, Gregory Fisher, Rona George, Tahnee Manitowabi, Vince Manitowabi, Bruce Noakwegijig, Clayton Odjig, Joe Osawabine, Joshua Peltier, Leroy Peltier, Angie Pitawanakwat & Billy Shawanda
1994/1995
  • The Manitoulin Incident – Remount Tour in 1995
Written by Alanis King-Odjig
Director: Paul Thompson
Set Design: Karin Jones
Performers: Levi Aguonie, Gilbert Clements, Mark Dieter, Gloria May Eshkibok, Bruno Gaudette, Rona George, Cherylynn Kitchikake, Sandra Laronde, Louis Lefebvre, Doris Linklater, April Manitowabi, Vince Manitowabi, Bruce Noakwegijig, Jack Nicholsen, Clayton Odjig, Joey Osawabine, Leroy Peltier, Vicky Peltier & Angeline Pitawanakwat
1994
  • The Tommy Prince Story
Written by Alanis King-Odjig
Director: Paul Thompson
Set Design:
Performers: Glen Gould, Kevin Peltier & Shandra Spears
1993
  • If Jesus Met Nanabush – Tour
Written by Alanis King-Odjig
Director: Anne Anglin
Performers: Sharon King, Alon Nashman & Clayton Odjig
  • New Voices Woman – Tour
Written by Larry E. Lewis
Director: Alanis King Odjig
Performers: Levi Aguonia, Gilbert Clements, Leonard Lacquette, Carmen Moore & Maria Whitefish
  • New Voices Woman
Written by Larry E. Lewis
Director: Alanis King Odjig with Alejandro Ronceria
Set Design: Linda Leon
Performers: Levi Aguonie, David Assiniwe, Jeffrey Eshkawkogan, Gloria Eshkibok, Rona George, Francis Kaboni, Anonghous Kitchikake, Pamela Manitowabi, Shannon Manitowabi, Vince Manitowabi, Bruce Naokwegijig, Kristine Ominika, Joe Osawabine, Duke Peltier, Joshua Peltier & Adam Shawana
1992
  • 20th Century Indian Boy
Written by Mark Seabrook
Director: Alanis King-Odjig
Performers: Jerome Basque, Jonathan Fisher, Julia Pegahmagabow & Mark Seabrook
  • Someday
Written by Drew Hayden Taylor
Director: Larry E. Lewis
Performers: Herbie Barnes, Joy Keeper, Doris Linklater & Edna Manitowabi
1991/1992
  • Lupi, The Great White Wolf – Mainstage & Touring
Written by Esther Jacko
Director: Larry E. Lewis
Performers: Harvey Bell, Jonathon Debassige, Justine Enosse, Gloria Eshkibok, Gregory Fisher, Jonathon Fisher, Rona George, Shannon Manitowabi, Bruce Noakwegijig, Clayton Odjig, Joe Osawabine, Leroy Peltier, Crystal Lynn Shawanda & Ruby Trudeau
  • Path With No Moccasins
Written by Shirley Cheechoo
Director:
Performers:
1990
  • First Love
Written by Diane Debassige
Director: Vinetta Strombergs
Performers: Diane Debassige, Michael Johns, Mark Seabrook & Wyonna Wesley
  • Quest For Fire
Written by Lenore Keeshig-Tobias
Director: Vinetta Strombergs
Performers: Diane Debassige, Michael Johns, Mark Seabrook & Wyonna Wesley The
  • Bootlegger Blues
Written by Drew Hayden Taylor
Director: Larry E. Lewis
Performers: Herbie Barnes, Justine Enosse, Gloria Eshkibok, Jani Lauzon, Dwayne Manitowabi, Billy Merasty & Clayton Odjig
  • Pictures on the Wall
Written by Drew Hayden Taylor
Director: Larry E. Lewis
Performers: Audrey Debassige, Rob Hunter, Vince Latrimoulle & Bernadette Wassengeso
  • Word Magic
Written by Lenore Keeshig-Tobias
Director: Larry E. Lewis
Performers: Audrey Debassige, Rob Hunter, Vince Latrimoulle & Bernadette Wassengeso
  • The Thunderbird Children
Written by Esther Jacko
Director: Larry E. Lewis
Performers: Audrey Debassige, Rob Hunter, Vince Latrimoulle & Bernadette Wassengeso
1989
  • Education Is Our Right
Written by Drew Hayden Taylor
Director: Larry E. Lewis
Performers: Debbie Anwhatin, Bruce Armstrong, Jack Burning
  • Toronto At Dreamer’s Rock
Written by Drew Hayden Taylor
Director: Larry E. Lewis
Performers: Herbie Barnes, Jeffrey Eshkawkogan & Dwayne Manitowabi
  • The Rez Sisters
Written by Tomson Highway
Director: Larry E. Lewis
Performers: Audrey Debassige, Gloria Eshkibok, Pokey Fox, Sheri Jacko, Clayton Odjig, Gordie Odjig, Gina Simon Gasongi & Rose Marie Trudeau
Note: first workshopped and developed De-ba-jeh-mu-jig theatre in February 1986.
1988
  • Nanabush of the 80's
Written by Kennetch Charlette, Shirley Cheechoo & Alanis King
Performers: Monty Bass, Kennetch Charlette, Shirley Cheechoo, Gloria Eshkibok, Alanis King & Gordie Odjig
1986
  • Aria
Written by Tomson Highway
Directed by Larry E. Lewis
  • Nothing Personal
Written by Shirley Cheechoo & Alanis King
Director: Larry E. Lewis
Performers: Gloria Eshkibok, Alanis King & Rose Marie Trudeau
  • Ayash
Written by Jim Morris
Director: Larry E. Lewis
Performers: Anne McCue, Shirley Cheechoo, Ron Cook & Rene Highway
1985
  • A Ridiculous Spectacle in One Act (aka Many-Toe Lynn Aileen)
Written by Tomson Highway
Director: Larry E. Lewis
Performers: Jeffrey Eshkawkogan, Mary Green, Tomson Highway, Meika Kleist & Doris Linklater
Note: this production developed out of workshops done in 1985
1984
  • Shadow People
Written by Shirley Cheechoo
Director: Vinetta Strombergs
Performers: Shirley Cheechoo, Ron Cook, Jeffrey Eshkawkogan, Mary Green, Tomson Highway Doris Linklater & Dwayne Manitowabi
  • Respect the Voice of the Child
Written by Shirley Cheechoo & Billy Merasty
Director: Shirley Cheechoo
Performers: Mark Bruder, Shirley Cheechoo, Cynthia Debassige, Diane Debassige, Lawrence Martin & Billy Merasty

Notable alumni[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Shannon Henen's An Oral History of De-ba-jeh-mu-jig Theatre
  2. ^ Canadian Shakespears: Spotlight
  3. ^ a b De-ba-jeh-mu-jig Theatre Group: Vision

External links[edit]