Drew Hayden Taylor, Santee Smith and Richard Van Camp on Me Artsy
Me Artsy is the third collection of essays edited by Drew Hayden Taylor, following his successful anthologies Me Funny and Me Sexy.
Fourteen indigenous artists, including Taylor himself, contributed essays to this book, highlighting a spectrum of creativity found in gourmet cuisine, fashion design, dance and writing.
Storyteller Richard Van Camp and dancer Santee Smith joined Taylor on The Next Chapter to talk about their contributions to the series.
RICHARD VAN CAMP ON BEING A STORYTELLER V. A WRITER
"Sometimes when I'm marketed as a writer and I'm travelling, you'll have 17 people at a public library and you have a wonderful time doing a literary reading. When I'm marketed as a storyteller, it's a packed house every single time and that's because I have a feeling people are lonely for stories. You can be on Facebook and Twitter and Tumblr and MySpace and everything else under the sun, but we're social animals and we're built to be heard, to be believed, to be included. So, when I'm sharing a story and I see somebody who just can't wait to sing back to me their story that's the best because it's not a monologue, it's a dialogue."
SANTEE SMITH ON TRYING TO DEFINE HER ARTISTIC PROCESS
"I tried to give an inside view of what I might be thinking or feeling, just before I go on to the stage, or within the performance. Trying to articulate what it was that I'm going through emotionally, physically mentally was a huge challenge, but also a positive one because it's defining for me my process and how I do what I do."
DREW HAYDEN TAYLOR ON HOW HE GOT HIS FIRST JOB AS A PLAYWRIGHT
"[Tomson Highway] had gotten a grant for Playwright in Residency program for Native Earth Performing Arts, Canada's premiere native theatre company...There were two working native playwrights in Ontario at the time: there was Tomson, who was the artistic director, and the outgoing playwright-in-residence who I believe was Daniel David Moses. So Tomson was in a bit of a pickle. He had this grant and no one to give it to. If you didn't use it, he'd have to give it back and that goes against the nature of most artists.
He became desperate and did what a lot of desperate people do: he went to the bottom of the barrel and there I was, passed out. I had one credit on my resume at that time, that's how desperate Tomson was. The number of plays I'd seen you could count on my fingers. But he came to me and asked me if I wanted to be the playwright-in-residence for Native Earth, based on that one half hour script. My first reaction was no, because the education I'd had on my reserve and eventually bussed off to the nearby high school was that theatre was dead, white men and I didn't know any. I said no and Tomson had to cajole me into taking the job. I ended up only becoming the playwright-in-residence for Native Earth because I had a very hungry landlord that needed to be fed. I'm one of the few people you'll meet who got into theatre for the money."
Drew Hayden Taylor, Richard Van Camp and Santee Smith's comments have been edited and condensed.