Josh Languedoc is our newest team member stepping into the newly established role of Director, Indigenous Strategic Planning (and a big heartfelt Fringe thanks to BioWare for their generous support in the creation of this role, and Fringe’s Indigenous Theatre program). Josh’s name may be familiar – perhaps you’ve seen it in a playbill, or on a school report one of your kids wrote. He has published several plays, including Rocko and Nakota: Tales from the Land which has been produced at Edmonton Fringe Festival and five other Fringe Festivals. He’s also beloved by many students as a substitute teacher in the Edmonton Public School System and has been hard at work completing his thesis at the University of Alberta for his Master of Fine Arts in Theatre Practices. Hailing from the Saugeen First Nation, when it comes to his Anishnaabe heritage, he reminds everyone that “I’m just one person, so my mission of supporting Indigenous artists is more about helping them connect the dots with each other.”
What was your first experience with Fringe?
Fringe has always been part of my life. I actually produced my first Fringe play right out of high school! It’s especially become important as I began developing pride in my Indigenous identity during my twenties.
What have you done before joining the Edmonton Fringe team?
My greatest love is writing. In the past six years, I’ve written about five or six different plays. One of them has toured Canada, one is being used as material in national workshops, and another is nearing production right now. Writing can be a lonely task, though, so I’m really enjoying the community connections I’m making now.
What is something you are learning right now?
I’m learning patience! Right now, I’m learning how to play guitar again, and my issue is that if I can’t learn something easily, I get frustrated quickly. So I’m learning how to embrace the human tactility of playing music.
What are you passionate about outside of work?
Video games for sure. They’re a great way to relieve stress and just disconnect from everything else I have going on. Right now, I’m playing Super Mario Odyssey and just finished the main story, so I’m going back to all the kingdoms to find the power moons that I missed!
If we were all cozied up at Fringe Grounds Cafe, what would be your favourite story to tell the room?
I usually don’t decide that kind of thing before I arrive at that sort of event. The story will just come to me based on the vibe or the thoughts I’ve been having that day. Maybe it’ll be something from when I was a teenager, or maybe about when I went to Mexico.
What was a place or event that transformed your ideas, perspective, or thinking in a new way?
When I was fourteen growing up in St. Albert, I was convinced that theatre only went as far as musicals, nothing else. So when I started classes at Victoria School of Performing and Visual Arts, my world was blown open. In grade 10, I saw Vern Thiessen’s play Einstein’s Gift, and I was utterly floored. Experiencing theatre in this way simply changed my life.
Have you ever seen yourself on stage, or your culture represented in this way?
When Citadel Theatre presented Children of God in 2018, it was the first time I had seen my people’s true traditional dances, their stories, and their trauma right on stage. I was transfixed and so broken down by it, but the message that ‘we belong here’ has stayed with me since.
To wrap up this chat, we asked Josh for a sweet and free-spirited GIF of himself being himself! Check it out!