Selena Couture

Selena Couture, University of Alberta

Bodies of Knowledge: Teaching Indigenous Theatre and Performance Theories


This paper presents a methodology of decolonizing theatre studies through the teaching of Indigenous theatre and performance theories in a contemporary theory course. Focusing on land and concepts held within Indigenous languages, these theoretical frameworks enable the integration of Indigenous knowledge and teaching methods as per TRC Call to Action #62. Bringing Western and Indigenous bodies of knowledge into conversation also creates the possibility of new insights into both Indigenous and Western theatre and performance, which this paper discusses in relation to Tomson Highway’s Ernestine Shuswap Gets Her Trout (2004), and Susan Glaspell’s Trifles (1916).


Dr. Couture is Assistant Professor of Drama at the University of Alberta. Her work examines intersections of performance and Indigeneity, particularly regarding uses of Indigenous performance as a way to tell Indigenous histories eroded by colonialism with a parallel inquiry into colonial performance and the construction of whiteness. Her research has been published in Theatre Journal, Performance Research, Canadian Theatre Review, alt.theatre as well as a chapter in Recasting Commodity and Spectacle in the Indigenous Americas. She has also recently co-edited with Alexander Dick (UBC English), Pizarro; A Tragedy by Richard Brinsley Sheridan (Summer 2017 Broadview Press). Dr. Couture is currently working on her monograph, Into the Light and Against the Current: Performing History and Land in Coast Salish Territories and Vancouver’s Stanley Park, which focuses on theatrical, cultural and tourist performances as means of cultural continuation and historiography and explores how hən̓q̓əmin̓əm language, thought, and place names give access to Indigenous histories obscured by the colonial archive.

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