The Nova Scotia High School Drama Festival

Decolonizing Story Structure

with Lara Lewis

In this workshop, students will examine story structure from an indigenous point of view and challenge western norms around what a story is and how it should be formed. We will discuss the nature of oral storytelling and its connection to performance, and the circular nature of traditional storytelling using texts by indigenous playwrights as examples. We will also look at patterns of speech in indigenous texts and how that echoes traditional language practices, land-based writing, and dramaturgical practices more aligned with pan-indigenous values. This workshop is a closed space for indigenous students and will consist of one hour-long session.

Materials and Key Vocabulary:

  • Dramaturgy
  • Freytag’s Pyramid
  • Freytag’s Pyramid chart
  • The Medicine Wheel
  • Medicine Wheel chart
  • Storytelling
  • Land-based narratives
  • Descriptiveness vs. prescriptiveness
  • Decolonization
  • Sense of place and home
  • Two-eyed seeing in a literary context (Etuaptmumk)
  • Video: Etuaptmumk: Two-Eyed Seeing | Rebecca Thomas | TEDxNSCCWaterfront

All DramaFest Workshops have limited availability. This workshop is not available May 12th to 14th. Availability may also be limited due to bookings by other classes.

LEARNING TARGET(S) Students can analyze story structure from a culturally-specific context.


  • Students will be able to respond with critical awareness to their own work and to the work of others.
    • Students will explore more fully connections made between text and their own life experiences and circumstances.
  • Students will address problems and make decisions relating to their drama work.
  • Students will value cultural diversity and be able to demonstrate respect for cultural diversity in the drama context.
  • Students will be able to interpret how drama celebrates, comments on, and questions issues and events in cultural and historical contexts.
  • Students will make connections between their own lives and the characters, ideas, and events in a drama work.

Lara Lewis is a queer Mi’kmaw theatre artist from Kjipuktuk/Halifax. A graduate of Dalhousie University and the University of King’s College, Lara has been performing professionally since 2017 and working as a dramaturge since 2018. Recent credits include work with The Villains Theatre and Zuppa Theatre. Later this year, Lara will make her film debut in The Agnostics, a short film by Rebecca Falvey. In 2018, she was nominated for a Theatre Nova Scotia Merritt Award in the Outstanding Supporting Actor category. Lara is currently an apprentice dramaturge with Playwrights Atlantic Resource Centre. As an administrator, Lara has worked for Halifax Fringe and Mayworks Kjipuktuk/Halifax, and is the incoming Chair of the Bus Stop Theatre Co-operative. View Lara’s profile.

  1. This workshop is closed to indigenous students only. 
  2. Students remain seated throughout this workshop.

Book now

Please note: Theatre Nova Scotia respectfully requests that schools and community groups ideally do not cancel workshops once they are booked, unless absolutely necessary. If a group must cancel or reschedule, please give us a week of prior notice. In these precarious days for arts workers, TNS is going to great lengths to provide schools with exceptional theatre education and local artists with paid work in our industry. Please be aware that artists may have turned down other paid work to accommodate these workshop bookings. Thank you for your understanding.

Please get in touch with us if you have any questions. 

Closed to indigenous students only. 

Students stay seated throughout this workshop.