CANADA Tomson Highway explores life through laughter in the 2022...

Tomson Highway explores life through laughter in the 2022 Massey Lectures


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In the 2022 Massey Lectures, author Cree Thomson Highway will take the audience on an exhilarating journey through language, creativity, humor, sex, gender, and death—and how these ideas are expressed in indigenous culture. (Sean Howard/House of Anansi Press)

Artist Cree Tomson Highway will be lecturing CBC Massey this year to audiences across Canada in the first live event since 2019.

In his 2022 CBC Massey Lectures titled Laughing with the Trickster: On Sex, Death and AccordionsThe highway brings its characteristic irreverence to the exploration of five major themes of human existence: language, creativity, sex and gender, humor and death.

Shosse is a performer, playwright and author whose extensive contribution to the arts has been recognized 2022 Governor General’s Performing Arts Award for Lifetime Artistic Achievement. His latest work is Constant amazementmemoirs telling about the first 15 years of his life.

For the first time since 2019, lectures will be held in person for an audience in five cities of the country:

  • September 7: Fredericton Theatre, Fredericton.
  • 9th of September: D.F. Cook Concert Hall, Memorial University, St. John’s.
  • September 14: Broadway Theatre, Saskatoon.
  • 16 of September: York Theatre, Vancouver.
  • 23 September: Kerner Hall, Toronto.

Tickets will be available in the first week of August at the respective venues.

Laughing with the Trickster: On Sex, Death and Accordions will air on CBC Radio Ideas as well as CBC Listen in November 2022 and available like a book from the House of Anansi Press.

CBC Massey Lectures is a partnership between CBC, House of Anansi Press and Massey College at the University of Toronto.

“I think we really need to have some laughs in our lives this year, and we know that the Thomson Highway gives us both joy and an opportunity to reflect on the environment,” said Natalie De Rozier, Principal of Massey College.

“I think this time is the time to hear what Thomson has to say,” said Semareh Al-Hillal, president of House of Anansi Press.

An uplifting message in difficult times

AT Laughing with the Trickster Highway explores some of the fundamental questions of human existence through the lens of indigenous mythology, as opposed to the ideas of ancient Greece and Christianity.

In his first lecture, V. On the tongueHighway claims that language shapes how we see the world. “Like birdsong, languages ​​make our planet a beautiful place, a charming place—really, a wonderful place—to live,” he writes. Highway says that without language, we are lost beings in a meaningless existence, so we tell stories. Language helps us create different mythologies, ways to understand who we are and why we are here.

The man leans against the railing.  The cityscape is visible behind him, through a large window.

Highway is an award-winning writer, playwright, and composer. (Jean-Francois Villeneuve/Radio-Canada)

about creation, the second lecture asks: “How did the place we know as the universe come into being? Which god, angel, or combination of the two was responsible for its creation?” For the ancient Greeks, the world was created by sex, and people are not here to suffer, but to enjoy. Christianity offered something more linear: the beginning, the middle and the end of things. The Indigenous worldview offers something different, writes Highway: “Those who lived in the centuries before us—our mothers, our grandmothers, our great-great-grandmothers, our deceased children, our loved ones—they live here with us, still today, in the very air. that we breathe.”

AT about humor, the third lecture, Highway, invites us to the Cree world of scatological, wild laughter. He calls out to the Trickster, a central figure in the mythologies of many of Turtle Island’s indigenous communities. Viewers are invited to experience the world through joy and laughter: “Welcome to pleasure, welcome to fun. Welcome to Trickster and his sense of humor. Welcome to our world of unbridled madness.”

Next, About sex and gender, explores some of the limitations that monotheism places on our understanding of the human body and gender. Highway writes that in the world of indigenous peoples, “there is room for any number of genders in the circle of pantheism,” an idea that has new implications for understanding our time.

Fifth and final lecture Highway About death. Christianity, he says, offers a dark vision of the afterlife. The Greeks offered something more positive. But from an indigenous perspective on our life after death, Highway writes, when we die, we are left right here on earth, “right in the middle of that circle that is our garden, the one we were assigned to take care of when we came into this world as newborns.

It is an uplifting and joyful conclusion—a positive message that the indigenous worldview offers ways of seeing and believing that make our journey through the earth joyful, hilariously fun, and rich in diversity.

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