Even the busiest artists need a break!
PJ is currently performing in Angélique
PJ Prudat is of proud Métis roots. PJ is Nightswimming Theatre’s 2019 Creator-in-Residence, was Playwright in Rez at Native Earth Performing Arts (2013/14); on Factory Theatre’s NRCG writer’s unit (2015); a company actor for both the National Arts Centre’s English Theatre Ensemble (2015/16) and the Shaw Festival (2017/Winter 2018); and a Laureate of the 2017 REVEAL Indigenous Art Award. Select Acting Credits: Iphigenia and the Furies (SAGA Collectif),Honour Beat (Theatre Calgary),Everything I Couldn’t Tell You (Spiderbones Theatre), Ipperwash (NEPA), Moonlodge (Urban Ink), Reckoning (Article 11),Adventures of a Black Girl in Search of God, Twelfth Night (NAC), Cleo in Antony and Cleopatra (SIR).
When did you first think of yourself as an artist?
I was one of those kids who loved performing airband style — I had a choreographed dance sequence to 99 Luft Ballons when I was pretty wee...still love that song so much! And am influenced by my mother’s love for storytelling, books and watching as many films as possible. But I think I really knew by my early twenties that I would never be able to give as much of myself to any profession as I would as to being an artist.
Who helped you develop your voice as an artist?
I’ve had some really wonderful support so far in my career—Native Earth Performing Arts under the guidance of Yvette Nolan and Tara Beagan was inspirational and monumental for me. There are so many! Aggghh! Artists such as Jan Henderson, Nancy Benjamin, Monique Mohica, Michelle St Jean, Michael Greyeyes, Nigel Shawn Williams, Sarah Kitz, Richard Cliff, Brian Quirt, Matt McGeachy, Charlie Tomlinson, Keith Barker, Jillian Keiley, Marjorie Chan, Andrea Menard, Jonathan Seinen, Marie Clements, Sarah Garton Stanley. I strive to learn as much as I can in these ephemeral moments of art making. IIm inspired and greatly moved by art makers.
What’s something that’s inspired you this week?
When the National Arts Centre /Indigenous Theatre Artistic Director Kevin Loring —wrote his open address to the violent news of being denied $3.5 million ‘Heritage’ funding by the government —for the inaugural season— saying that the “1st season of Indigenous Theatre will have nine Indigenous languages on our National Stage! NAC We Rise!” And “our stories are medicine.”
Because I believe that our words, our stories, hold great, great power—they have always been and will remain so, medicine—with or without government influence. We will keep upholding the good fight.
What’s your favourite restaurant in the city to visit?
I love Kukum. And I also love Tabule, and anything with tacos.
What do you want to see more of on Toronto stages?
Love. Truth. Indigenous stories. Stories of real grit and passion by artists of colour. And as movers and shakers within those colonial-check-box-brackets of ‘marginalized’ voices (we are much more than that!) who fight to break free and survive. To live. And the voices of those who have fought back while facing adversity—flying high, loud and resonant.