Durand, Yves Sioui

Yves Sioui Durand, writer, director, actor and producer for stage, television and radio (b at Wendake on the Huron reserve near Québec City 11 May 1951). Founder (1985) of the only French-language native theatre company in Québec, Les Productions Ondinnok, Durand's work has been widely performed in Canada, Mexico and Europe (Intercity Festival, Florence; International Festival of Contemporary Theatre, Lausanne; Nottingham and Glastonbury Festivals; Montpellier Danse and Nancy Festivals).

Durand is the creator of a totally original image theatre based on Pan-American mythologies and history, in contrast to the regional/naturalistic quality of most English-language native theatre. Music, dance and powerful stage imagery take precedence over text. Durand's work is overtly political; he sees artists as "the living bridge" between traditions - as expressed in archaic ritual - and "the new Native personality."

Durand is best known for Le Porteur des peines du monde (first performed 1983; published 1992). Porteur won the Prix Américanité at the Festival des Amériques in 1985. In 1995 an English version of this play, much expanded in size, was produced at the BANFF CENTRE as The Sun Raiser. It is based on the mythological image of the Sun, who carries the accumulated sufferings of mankind as he crosses from East to West, to be purified in darkness and reborn at dawn. Durand's title figure reflects the myth, but also serves as a symbol for the sufferings of native people and their shamanic battle for purification. His rebirth as a young white eagle points to hope for the future. The play takes place in ritual space, accompanied by chanting and drumming.

La Conquête de Mexico (performed Montréal, 1991) is based on Bernardino de Sahagun's Historia General de Las Cosas de La Nueva España (1527-1580). Dramatic structure follows the Aztec calendar, and the work is presented from an Aztec perspective. The dramatic idiom is French, with passages in Aztec and Spanish. La Conquête de Mexico moves freely between time zones, relating past events to the present. It is Durand's most ambitious work, with extensive text, a vast cast of characters and spectacular stage effects. Other important works include: UKUAMAQ (performed Montréal, 1993), based on an Inuit legend and conceived as "an artistic exploration open to the public"; and ATISKENANDAHATE, Voyage to the Land of the Dead (performed Montréal, 1988; CBC-TV, 1991; CBC radio, 1994), a native/contemporary version of the Orpheus myth.