This paper will explore the integration of theatrical play with a land based focus and how it contributes to supporting holistic wellbeing in Indigenous youth. I focus on ‘Games of Presence’ theatre games often categorized as warm-ups, energizers and exercises in applied theatre programs. We draw on interviews with youth participants in our theatre as research workshops on wellness and adult facilitators who have told us that these games are not just fun – they have a greater significance, building trust, developing voice, positive relationships and the sharing of power. Play also connects youth to elders, cultural practices and to the land; they told us that these connections were also ways to learn about themselves. We will share how such localized connections to land and Indigenous Knowledge translates into healthy, active living and eudaimonic wellbeing by integrating the physicality of theatre games to sustainable land-based active living interventions.
Associate Professor of Applied Human Sciences, Concordia University, Montreal, Canada and uses applied theatre to explore social justice issues and as a method of reflection into the ethics of professional practice. He has conducted arts-based research into wellbeing with Indigenous youth in partnership with a Canadian Indigenous health organization. He is co-editor of Playing in a House of Mirrors: Applied Theatre as Reflective Practice (Sense Publishers, 2015), Emancipatory practices: Adult/youth engagement for social and environmental justice (Sense Publishers, 2010).