Tomson Highway to explore life through laughter in 2022 Massey Lectures

Cree artist Tomson Freeway will ship this yr’s CBC Massey Lectures to audiences throughout Canada within the collection’s first stay occasion since 2019.

In his 2022 CBC Massey lectures, titled Laughing with the Trickster: On Intercourse, Dying and Accordions, Freeway brings his signature irreverence to an exploration of 5 themes central to the human situation: language, creation, intercourse and gender, humour, and dying.

Freeway is a performer, playwright and creator whose wide-ranging contribution to the humanities was acknowledged by the 2022 Governor Common’s Performing Arts Award for Lifetime Creative Achievement. His most up-to-date work is Everlasting Astonishment, a memoir chronicling the primary 15 years of his life.

For the primary time since 2019, the lectures shall be delivered in individual to audiences in 5 cities throughout the nation: 

  • Sept. 7: Fredericton Playhouse, Fredericton.
  • Sept. 9: D.F. Cook dinner Recital Corridor, Memorial College, St. John’s.
  • Sept. 14: Broadway Theatre, Saskatoon. 
  • Sept. 16: York Theatre, Vancouver.
  • Sept. 23: Koerner Corridor, Toronto. 

Tickets shall be out there within the first week of August on the respective venues. 

Laughing with the Trickster: On Intercourse, Dying and Accordions shall be broadcast on CBC Radio’s Ideas and CBC Listen in November 2022, and out there as a book from Home of Anansi Press.

The CBC Massey Lectures is a partnership between CBC, Home of Anansi Press and Massey Faculty within the College of Toronto.

“I feel we actually must have a little bit little bit of laughter in our life this yr, and we all know that Tomson Freeway provides us each pleasure and likewise a capability to mirror on the environment,” stated Nathalie Des Rosiers, principal of Massey Faculty. 

“I feel this time greater than any is the time for listening to what Tomson has to say,” stated Semareh Al-Hillal, president of Home of Anansi Press.

Uplifting message in making an attempt instances

In Laughing with the Trickster, Freeway explores a few of the basic questions of human existence by means of the lens of Indigenous mythologies, in distinction with the concepts from historical Greece and Christianity. 

In his first lecture, On Language, Freeway argues that language shapes the best way we see the world. “Like birdsong, languages make our planet a good looking place, a captivating place — certainly, a miraculous place — to stay on,” he writes. With out language, we’re misplaced creatures in a meaningless existence, Freeway says — which is why we inform tales. Language helps us create totally different mythologies, methods of understanding who we’re and why we’re right here. 

A man leans against a railing. A cityscape is visible behind him, through a large window.
Freeway is an award-winning creator, playwright and composer. (Jean-Francois Villeneuve/Radio-Canada)

On Creation, the second lecture, asks: “How did the place we all know because the universe come into being? What sort of god or angel or mixture thereof was accountable for its creation?” For the traditional Greeks, the world was created by means of intercourse, and people weren’t right here to undergo, however to get pleasure from. Christianity provided one thing extra linear: a starting, center and finish of issues. The Indigenous worldview affords one thing else, Freeway writes: “Those that lived in ages earlier than us — our moms, our grandmothers, our great-great-grandmothers, our kids who’ve died, our family members — they stay right here with us, nonetheless, at this time, within the very air we breathe.”

In On Humour, the third lecture, Freeway invitations us into the Cree world of scatological, wild laughter. He invokes the Trickster — a central determine in mythologies of many Indigenous communities throughout Turtle Island. The viewers is invited to expertise the world by means of pleasure and laughter: “Welcome to pleasure; welcome to enjoyable. Welcome to the Trickster and his sense of humour. Welcome to our world of rampant madness.” 

Subsequent up, On Intercourse and Gender, explores a few of the limits monotheism imposes on our understanding of the human physique and gender. On this planet of Indigenous peoples, Freeway writes, “the circle of pantheism has area for any variety of genders” — an concept with recent relevance for understanding our personal instances.

Freeway’s fifth and closing lecture is On Dying. Christianity, he says, affords a dismal imaginative and prescient of the afterlife. The Greeks provided one thing a bit extra optimistic. However within the Indigenous view of our life after dying, Freeway writes, after we die, we keep proper right here on earth, “smack in the midst of that circle that’s our backyard, the one we got the accountability to look after after we got here into this world as newborns.” 

It is an uplifting and joyous conclusion — a optimistic message that the Indigenous worldviews provide methods of seeing and believing that make our journey on earth joyous, hilariously humorous and wealthy in variety. 

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