In Conversation with Michelle St. John

It’s always such a pleasure to chat with someone who is passionate about what they do. Michelle St. John is no exception. Acting since the age so 11, Michelle told me on Thursday during our In Conversation at the Toronto Women’s Bookstore, that she can’t imagine doing anything else but being creative. Not just an actor, her repertoire includes singing, playwrighting and producing.

We spoke about two of her latest projects in which she is an actor and a producer at the same time – a multitasking feat!  Tombs of the Vanishing Indian is a play written by Marie Clements about the relocation of Native peoples from Oklahoma to Los Angeles, the community they found in the underground water system, and the forced sterilization of Indigenous women that took place in the 1970s. It was co-produced by Red Diva Projects, and ran at Buddies in Bad Times in Toronto from March 9-27. It is a powerful, deeply moving play about identity and loss.

Michelle’s latest creative foray is into film. Frog Girl Films has produced a DVD of the 9 minute performance that Marie Clements was commissioned to create for the 2010 Winter Olympic closing at the Aboriginal pavilion. It examines the Road of Tears and the Native Brotherhood of BC. Six performances were delivered, and one was filmed. This film is now touring North America and gathering awards. Even more exciting, the sales of the DVD and the song go towards a scholarship fund for the children of missing and murdered Aboriginal women. A 43 second trailer of this hauntingly beautiful 9 minute performance is available on YouTube.

Social Change, social justice and the telling of the stories of Aboriginal people weave through the mandates of both of these companies, which Michelle reminded us is an unfortunate match, given the history of colonization on this continent.

Missed the conversation, but wish you could see it? Watch it on Vimeo!

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