Maya Green’s ode to Prince’s Island Park is a beautiful performance of movement and monologue

“...being on stage, fully present with an audience viewing what you’re creating and

taking it all in – the authenticity of it is so rewarding, so fantastic.”

– Maya Green

 

Maya Green, a settler based in Mohkínstsis (Calgary), is a trained theatre actor. She has been involved with Making Treaty 7 (MT7) since the production company’s infancy in 2012. Daughter of the late Michael Green, Executive Producer and Creator for Making Treaty 7, Maya has been working on the stage since she was in high school. A graduate of the University of Lethbridge with a Bachelor of Fine Arts, Maya’s focus was on performing arts and creation.


“It’s interesting; theatre is something I’ve always done – in a way, it’s comforting,” Maya says. “Especially when it’s something you’ve worked on, on your own, when you’ve created something out of nothing – being able to share that with a group of people is really fantastic.”


Starting her career behind the scenes, Maya worked as a stagehand and usher for the original, big-production Making Treaty 7 play. In 2013, she attended a Creation Lab Residency at the Banff Centre organized by MT7. Although she wasn’t involved as a performance artist because she was quite young at the time, Maya was able to immerse herself in Indigenous theatre and creation. During the summer of 2021, Maya was offered the opportunity, as a performer, to take part in the two-week Istotsi residency program with MT7.

“It sounded like a fantastic project,” Maya says. “To be involved in an Indigenous-led project is something so unique and different from everything else in theatre. It shouldn’t be – I wish that weren’t the case – but I really hope that it can be the seed of something we’ll see so much more of.”

For her Istotsi piece, Maya wrote about Prince’s Island Park. During 1886, “lumber baron” Peter Anthony Prince, founder of the Eau Claire Lumber Mill, had a channel dug in the Bow River. The channel separated the park from the mainland, creating the island park we know today. Connected to downtown Mohkínstsis by three bridges across the Bow River Pathway, Prince’s Island Park is a wetland environment home to geese, mallard ducks and other animals. “While I was writing my piece, I spent a lot of time listening to the sounds of Prince’s Island Park,” Maya says. “The Bow River passing by and the animals in the area...I tried my best to bring all of those elements together. The creatures that live there, its history, and the way we, as people, use the space today – I did my best to marry all of that together.”

Maya Green at Prince's Island Park during the filming of Istotsi.

Maya’s piece is an ode to Prince’s Island Park – an immersive lesson in human movement and monologue. Broken into standalone sections, each piece of Maya’s play is representative of the past shifting into the future. From the Eau Claire Sawmill, closed in 1944, to the animals that live there today, the piece explores how we listen to the land we live on – from the unnatural to the natural.


“It doesn’t have a plot per se,” Maya says. “It’s more about what it’s like to immerse yourself in the area as a regular person – what it’s like to just sit and listen. It’s a very calming space for me. I based my piece specifically off the lagoon area where I go to collect my thoughts when I’m feeling overwhelmed.”


Free-writing monologues until she ran out of ideas, Maya created a script that mapped out the performance’s movements for herself and two other performers – MT7’s Caleigh Crow and Linda Kee. Although Maya’s original plan was to perform on stage alongside the whole MT7 crew, world issues forced the production to shift to the medium of film.


“I’m happy with what it is now,” Maya says. “In editing, we put it all together to be more cohesive and Kris and Biggie came up with the score to supplement and help the visual and auditory experience. For me, it was always this kind of very collaborative piece. I wanted different voices to be involved – to reflect the experience of many more people than just myself.”


Leading up to the production, Maya spoke with Michelle Thrush, Blake Booker, and Denise Clarke for guidance on her play. She was also assisted and influenced by the guest speakers and Elders who presented during the residency program.


“We had so many speakers tell us about an array of fascinating things,” Maya says. “We learned about tea ceremonies, China Town – all sorts of things. I did my best to take in what I was experiencing and transition it into theatre. The Indigenous-led experience of creating theatre was refreshing and different from what I learned in university – a very white institution."


“I’m the only white person in the cast. It felt interesting to be on that side of it – to be able to take a backseat and absorb everything I possibly could. It was a very unique, eye-opening experience. It’s hard to put it all into words. I felt very honoured to be involved in this piece.”

 
Istotsi: The Land We Live On is made possible in part by the RBC Foundation

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