Indigenous Playwrights

DRAM 303/3.0


DRAM 303 is designed as a humanities elective for students from various backgrounds with an interest in Indigenous playwrights. It offers a brief introduction to the history of these playwrights and their work, but its main focus is on the artists and their world views, as communicated through their writing.

Students will read a variety of plays and essays by prominent contemporary Indigenous Playwrights and consider the social and artistic issues associated with various dramatic and theatrical techniques. Course work involves reading, discussing, and responding to the ideas, world views, and creative provocations raised by these artists.

Some commentators say these plays are part of the fulfillment of Louis Riel’s prophecy (see the quote posted above). Others take John Ralston Saul’s conception, in A Fair Country, of an indigenously-inflected Canadian identity to heart. However interpreted, this body of work represents an alternative artistic theatre practice here on Turtle Island - one focused through traditions of storytelling, traditional beliefs, political articulation and activism, social rescue, cultural survival and reconstruction.


The historic and ongoing harms of settler colonialism are impossible to avoid. As such, several of the plays in this course contain representations and/or discussions of difficult subject matter including sexual violence, abuse, suicide, racism, misogyny and intergenerational trauma. Facing these harms is an unavoidable part of studying this literature.

Learning Outcomes

After completing DRAM 303, students should come away with the following knowledge and skills:

  • An understanding of some of the historical and contemporary social/political/economic circumstances that inform the creative work of First Nations playwrights in 21st century Canada.
  • An understanding of some of the alternative world views that inform, and are expressed in, both the creative and critical work of these playwrights.
  • A familiarity with the dramaturgical strategies and the political effects of those strategies in contemporary plays by First Nations playwrights.
  • The ability to effectively and responsibly use and share information in support of these playwrights, and their work as artists/thinkers, to develop a better understanding of the contextual foundation of their plays.
  • The opportunity to explore and engage openly with both familiar and unfamiliar issues, ideas, world views, artifacts, and events before accepting or formulating an opinion or conclusion.
  • The ability to combine and synthesize existing ideas and images in original ways that are marked by a high degree of innovation, divergent thinking and risk-taking in their own work as students, scholar-critics, and potential future artists.

The ability to develop and effectively express ideas in writing using a variety of genres and styles.