Inuk actor Miali Buscemi takes the stage for her debut season at the Stratford Festival

Miali Buscemi is an actor in three plays in this year's festival, including The Breathing Hole, directed by an Inuk and featuring Inuit actors.

Stratford will host world premiere of a play directed by an Inuk, featuring Inuit actors

Miali Buscemi (fifth from left) as Ruth Less with members of the company in Treasure Island. (Cylla von Tiedemann/Stratford Festival)

It's been an intense debut season at the Stratford festival for Inuk actor Miali Buscemi, and it's only just started.

"I had been in a theatre performance once before coming here, so it's been a bit of a wild experience," she said.

This week Romeo and Juliet opened with Buscemi playing a widow, and Treasure Island opens June 3. Buscemi is a pirate named Ruth Less and an able-bodied sailor in the children's show.

Rehearsals started for these shows back in February, so she's moved, with her two youngest sons, down to Stratford and enrolled them in school for her run in the festival. 
Film actor Miali Buscemi has learned a lot about the theatre world by taking part into her debut Stratford Festival season. (submitted by Miali Buscemi)

The rest of her family stayed in Nunavut, with her husband and high-school-aged son remaining at home in Iqaluit.

There have been moments when it's been hard to be away from home she says, but Stratford has a similar small community feel to Iqaluit, which she says has helped.

With rehearsals six days a week, it's also been just too hectic for her to miss home, but with rehearsals starting for her third show, she's talking about home more.

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The Breathing Hole, written by Colleen Murphy and directed by Reneltta Arluk was workshopped in Iqaluit because it takes place in the North.

"It's been a pretty interesting conversation because we're still very early on into the rehearsals," Buscemi said. "[It's] a conversation around Inuit culture, and the language and what this play is about." 

With it being the world premiere of the show, commissioned for Canada's 150th, she says actors and people coming through the festival have been asking a lot of questions about Inuit culture. 
Jani Lauzon pictured in the promotional photo for The Breathing Hole. The show opens August 18. (Lynda Churilla/Stratford Festival)

"I hope that the rest of Canada gains an interest in learning a bit more about Indigenous people in Canada," she said.

The show is set to debut in August and Buscemi is one of three Inuit actors in The Breathing Hole's cast of 19.

She's one of the first Nunavummiut to participate in the festival and says she's impressed by the number of Indigenous actors who are a part of this year's festival.

"I have to sit down sometimes and soak it all in because it's surreal."

Predominantly a film actor, known for her performances in Aviliaq: Entwined and the Heritage Minute about Nunavut artist Kenojuak Ashevak, she's learned a lot while in Stratford.

While in film she says she brings her energy up when the camera clicks on, in theatre she's running at full energy during every rehearsal, feeding off her fellow actors, and the audience provides the "thrill".

Another thing she's learning — "once you've done three shows, it becomes less common that you do three shows."

But she seized the offer to take on all three shows, and is glad she did.

"I'm learning about what I am capable of and what choices I would make after this," she said.