Is this reconciliation: What does it mean to decolonize theatre practice?

Friday January 19, 2024
12:00 PM - 1:00 PM

Notice: Date Change

Due to the forecasted snow storm, this event has been rescheduled to Friday, January 19.


Join theatre creators Quelemia Sparrow and Chelsea Haberlin as they discuss the topic of decolonization and theatre.

In 2013 Quelemia Sparrow, an Indigenous theatre creator from the Musqueam Nation, and Chelsea Haberlin, a white director and producer, were brought into a room to create a play about the Transmountain Pipeline. They were joined by Chelsea’s partner, a white theatre creator, and  Quelemia’s long-time friend and writer/actor from the Nlakapmux nation. It was a risky experiment, what happens when two white people and two Indigenous artists tackle the loaded topic of resource extraction in Canada?

They spent the next five years working through pre-conceived assumptions about the other, encountering triggers and fears, and striving to get to a place of real communication across deep cultural differences. The process was underscored by an inherent lack of trust routed in generations of dishonesty, misunderstanding, and harm, essentially the history of Canada. Their journey was one of deep listening and vulnerability and ultimately a glimmer of, if not complete understanding, at least openness. This process led to the creation of The Pipeline Project and planted the seeds for rich relationships and future collaboration between the four lead artists.

These questions of how to work together as a Musqueam and a settler artist continue with their work on Tumulx, the project Quelemia is developing during her time at UBC as the 2023/2024 Geoffrey & Margaret Andrew fellow, and the learning and unpacking continues. Is this reconciliation? We’re not sure. But maybe it is or at least it’s a place to start.

This talk is free and there is no need to RSVP.

About Quelemia Sparrow

Quelemia is an Indigenous actor, writer and director from the Musqueam Nation. She graduated from Studio 58’s Theatre program and the Langara Film Arts screenwriting program.

Some of Quelemia’s acting theatre credits include: Lysistrata and Timon of Athens, (Bard on the Beach), The Bakkhai (Stratford Festival) directed by Jillian Keiley, The Pipeline Project (Gateway Theatre) directed by Chelsea Haberlin, The Snow Queen (Globe Theatre) directed by Rachel Peake, Our Town (Osimous Theatre) directed by Ensemble, The Edward Curtis Project (GCTC/NAC) directed by Marie Clements, The Penelopiad (Arts Club Theatre Company) directed by Vanessa Porteous, August: Osage County (Arts Club Theatre) directed by Janet Wright, Ernestine Shuswap Gets Her Trout (Firehall Arts Centre) directed by Lorne Cardinal, Where the Blood Mixes (Playhouse/WCT) directed by Glynis Leyshon and The Fall: Industrial Horror (Electric Company) directed by Kim Collier. Various Film and T.V credits include: Tribal, Clouds of Autumn, The Letter, Fringe, V, Sanctuary 2, Blackstone, Cable Beach, Unnatural and Accidental, Da Vinci’s City Hall, Dead Zone and Da Vinci’s Inquest for which she won a Leo Award for Best Female Guest Appearance.


About Chelsea Haberlin

Chelsea has lived most of her life on the traditional and unceded territories of the Coast Salish people, specifically the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations and is honoured to call this gorgeous place her home. She is a white woman of mixed Italian-Scottish-English-Swiss heritage. She is a mom and is married to theatre artist Sebastien Archibald.

Chelsea has been creating theatre in some form since she was a very little girl making plays in her basement. She is the Artistic Director of Neworld Theatre and Associate Artist with ITSAZOO Productions, a company she co-founded in 2006. As a director she has worked with: ITSAZOO Productions, Neworld Theatre, Arts Club Theatre, Firehall Arts Centre, Theatre SKAM, Pacific Theatre, Delinquent Theatre, Studio 58, and many more. Chelsea is forever searching for new ways to surprise and engage an audience and is particularly passionate about meaningful collaboration, immersive environments, community engagement, and reconciliation.

Chelsea has an MFA in directing from UBC and a BFA from UVic and is currently an adjunct professor at UBC. She is the recipient of the Sydney J Risk award in directing, the Ray Michal award for an outstanding body of work by an emerging director and a two-time winner, and a five-time Jessie Richardson Award nominee for Outstanding Direction. She is a member of the advisory committee for Balancing Act, sits on the boards of the Vancouver Creative Space Society, Creekview Housing Coop (where she is grateful to live!), and Aenigma Theatre.


This talk is made possible by the Geoffrey & Margaret Andrew fellowship program.