Margo Kane (Cree/Saulteaux) is an interdisciplinary artist and a leading figure in Aboriginal performing arts. Over the past forty years, she has been recognized as a storyteller, dancer, singer, animator, video and installation artist, director, producer, writer, and teacher. Her desire to create work that has meaning for her people is the catalyst for her extensive travels into both rural and urban Aboriginal communities across Canada, and fuels her commitment to performance that is not only socially relevant but empowering, as well.
Her work is nationally and internationally acclaimed, especially with the touring of Moonlodge that is recognized as a Canadian Aboriginal classic in theatre. This one-woman performance first brought to the stage the story of the scooping of Aboriginal children by Children’s Aid societies and highlighted issues of the separation of Indian children to residential schools and foster care outside of their communities. It has been performed to high acclaim in Canada, the United States, Europe and Australia, adapted for CBC Radio and published in 1994. The Sydney Press (AU) during The Festival of the Dreaming praised it as being ‘in the top echelon of solo performance’.
She has extensive training and experience in many performance techniques. Song and dance were her earliest teachings along with dramatic training. Professional experience followed on Canadian stages, radio, TV and film. Her creativity knows no bounds--her own ‘voice’ has been a driving force in all that she does. Much of her work is grown out of physically-based exploration of s tory using techniques that include vocal and voice, authentic movement, sourcing, rivers work and improvisation. Margo's constant desire to integrate her experiences as an Aboriginal person with her artistic skills has fueled extensive experimentation with form, allowing her work to cross cultural and creative boundaries.
Her solo performance pieces have been rooted in the oral tradition of storytelling and presented in a very ritualistic style using interdisciplinary techniques. These include: Reflections in the Medicine Wheel, O Elijah, We’ve Always Been Here, Childhood Burial, Memories Springing/Waters Singing, I Walk I Remember, Confessions of an Indian Cowboy and Moonlodge.
As Artistic Director of Spirit Song Native Theatre School in Vancouver in the 1980s, she began to develop curricula based on stories and legends of Aboriginal communities in the region. She then began using theatre as a community development tool in her role as a facilitator with the National Native Role Model Program. She continued to support other trained facilitators in their work with communities in Health and Wellness programs, using her dramatic training along with activities, games, and laughter.
Concerned with issues of cultural access, she initiated the Vancouver forum, Telling Our Own Story: Appropriation and Indigenous Writers/Artists in 1989-90. In 1990 Kane was invited to join two committees of the Canada Council: Racial Equality and First Peoples' Advisory. In 1991 she developed the First Nations' Access Program with the Satellite Video Exchange in Vancouver. Within this program, she envisioned a new performance using a video installation that enabled experimentation with form and an interdisciplinary approach, extending from Aboriginal performance culture and the integration of image and performer. Thus began her work on The River – Home.
It was with The River - Home that Margo formed Full Circle: First Nations Performance in 1992 to create and enable opportunities for Aboriginal artists, writers and performers. From the development of The River – Home came the development of the Ensemble Training Program as a core project of the company, a culmination of her desire to share her work with others, whether onstage or in the classroom.
The company has been a leader in its field by offering workshops, training projects and performance opportunities to the Aboriginal artistic community in Vancouver since its inception and has supported other artists in the development of their work, showcasing their artistic endeavours through readings and performances and especially during the Talking Stick Festival which began in 2001 as a one day event and now has expanded to a two week affair. The impetus behind the creation of this event was to establish a unique showcase for talented, emerging and professional artists, to engage Aboriginal cultural communities, and to introduce Vancouver's many audiences to contemporary Aboriginal artistic practices.
She has received various awards, nominations and recognition for her performances for TV, film and stage. Her work with young people was recognized with the Canadian Achievement Award in 1991 from The Capitol Commission. In 1999, she received the James Buller Award for the Advancement of Aboriginal Theatre. Her return to the screen after several years with principal roles in Hallmark Movies Dreamkeepers and Unnatural and Accidental, resulted in a 2007 BC Film LEO Award for Best Supporting Actress in the screenplay adaptation of Marie Clements play, The Unnatural and Accidental Women’. In 2009 she received the Inaugural Lorena Gale Woman of Distinction from UBCP – Union of BC Performers as well as a 2009 Jesse Theatre Award in Vancouver for Best Supporting Actress in Where the Blood Mixes, Kevin Loring’s 2009 Governor-General’s Award-winning play. This show received standing ovations during their cross-country tour in 2010 including presentations at the 2010 Olympics and the National Arts Centre. Other stage work she has received significant praise for are productions written by Marie Clements, Burning Vision for Rumble Theatre and Magnetic North Festival and Copper Thunderbird at the National Arts Centre both directed by Peter Hinton. She also toured with her last solo performance Confessions of an Indian Cowboy accompanied by a trio of musicians, most significantly at The Dreaming International Indigenous Performing Arts Festival in Australia where Moonlodge had enjoyed previous success.
She has been active onstage for the last few years with the latest productions being For the Pleasure of Seeing Her Again with Lorne Cardinal at Western Canada Theatre in Kamloops and the Arts Club production of The Unplugging, a new play by Yvette Nolan in the fall of 2012. She has enjoyed being part of Vancouver Moving Theatre’s annual co-production with SFU of Bah Humbug! a Downtown Eastside adaption of Charles Dickens’ Christmas Carol and Ashes on the Water, a podplay produced by Neworld Theatre. In 2012 she received the BC Touring Award of Excellence from the BC Touring Council.
Margo has been a member of several Arts Service Organizations and committees, most notably, Indigenous Arts Service Organization (Past President), BC Touring Council (Director), CAPACOA (Director), Indigenous Performing Arts Alliance (Past President, Director). In 2009/10 she was the Distinguished Aboriginal Resident at UBC’s Dept. of Theatre, Film & Creative Writing.