Jessica Carmichael is an artist of mixed Abénaki/Euro heritage. She specializes in directing, acting, creation and dramaturgy. Jessica trained at the National Theatre School of Canada (Acting), the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art & King’s College London (MA Text & Performance Studies with Distinction), the University of Alberta (MFA Directing with Distinction) and the Michael Langham Workshop for Classical Direction (Stratford Festival, 2014 & 2016).
Before coming to Concordia, Jessica spent three seasons as the Artistic Director of Carousel Players, a professional theatre company for young audiences. She is a past artistic associate with Native Earth Performing Arts in Toronto and was Program Director of their Playwrights Unit Animiikiig. She was a workshop leader for “The Study” hosted by the National Arts Centre, Indigenous Performing Arts Alliance and Debajehmujig Creation Centre.
Directing (select): The Rez Sisters (Stratford Festival of Canada's 2021 Season); Medicine Wheel, Dream Girl, Across This Body, Dark Matters all responding to the 2019 report on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls for New Harlem's commissioned Embodying Power and Place (New Harlem Productions in association with Nightwood Theatre and Native Earth Performing Arts 2021); Apathy (Concordia University Theatre Department 2019); Boys Girls, And Other Mythological Creatures (Harbourfront Centre, Carousel Players 2019, 2017); Ipperwash (Blyth Festival 2017), Tick; iChild; Hana Hashimoto, Sixth Violin; Spelling 2-5-5 (Carousel Players 2014-2017), Two Indians (Summerworks Festival 2016); CLGA Unarchived (co-curator, Buddies in Bad Times Rhubarb Festival 2015), Savage (Native Earth/Stratford Springworks 2014), Treaty No. 9 (Aluna Theatre Rutas Festival 2014), girls!girls!girls! (co-director, SummerWorks 2013).
Upcoming: Directing a devised work Grief with Concordia University (2023), Will Eno's Middletown with The National Theatre School of Canada (2023), and Helen Edmundson's The Clearing at The Shaw Festival (2023).
Acting (select): Jessica's work as an actor has taken her across Canada/Turtle Island working with such companies as Guilty by Association (1991, Why Not Theatre Riser Project/FeministFuckItFestival/StoreFront Theatre and SFU workshop), Native Earth Performing Arts (Aluasa’sit), Thousand Islands Playhouse (Eyes Catch Fire) and Northern Light Theatre (True Mummy). She has had principle and supporting roles in full length feature Canadian films including A Louder Silence (dir. Nicolette Saina), I Think I Do (dir. Dylan Pierce) and Heart of the Sun (dir. France Damberger).
Playwriting (select): Jessica co-created Ipperwash as part of a commission for the Blyth Festival’s 2017-2018 Season, working closely with community members of Kettle and Stony Point First Nation. Jessica adapted for the stage Hana Hashimoto, Sixth Violin by author Chieri Uegaki and illustrator Qin Leng (Kids Can Press), with collaboration with Chieri Uegaki and her family. Hana Hashimoto was named a part of The 49. “The 49 is a list of forty-nine plays by women of colour that can be programmed tomorrow” www.the49list.com
Dramaturgy (select): Jessica has dramaturged numerous playwrights over the last 6 years. Recently she has worked with Corrina Hodgson, Jeff Ho, Reneltta Arluk, Frances Konkan, Jordi Mand, Mark Crawford, Kate Hewlett and Matt Mackenzie on their new works.
Currently: Working Todd Houseman on his The Children of the Bear with Outside the March in Toronto.
As a director, dramaturge, creator and performer of mixed Indigenous and European heritage, my research in the field of theatre experiments with embodied performance creation. My particular creative research examines my own mixed Indigenous and European heritage with the questions that arise from both colliding in method form. My collaborations interweave methods of building interconnectedness for Indigenous and non-Indigenous performance creators in theatrical creation conditions, while engaging notions of interdisciplinary theatrical explorations that engage contemporary theatre practices as well as issues of cultural anthropology.
My creation research often investigates the body of classic western works in non-traditional adaptations and forms. Project themes regularly touch upon grief, survival, resistance and resilience. Work has comprised revisioning classical plays from a collaborative, feminist, and Indigenous perspectives as well as devising and supporting contemporary new plays that examine performance texts between Indigenous and Western conversations and tensions of knowledge, ritual and land connectivity. How do First Nation, Métis and Inuit peoples express the varied and complex social and cultural address of the sacred? What connections do language and land inform in expressing ritual? How does grief and survival experiences impact the ways stories are shared? How have contemporary Indigenous communities revived traditional spirituality and healing? How does one stage cultural contact, impact and repression on the body? Most of my creation work over the past few years has been attempting to answer some of these questions.
Research Affiliations at Concordia:
Member of Indigenous Futures Research Centre