"The land is a magical place"

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As I get ready to travel to Vancouver where I currently live, I think to myself "My God...we did it!". Within ten days, a team of talented performers, one crafty stage-manger, lead by a compassionate and wise director - brought Busted Up: A Yukon Story to life. With thirty different voices all reflecting on the majesty of the Yukon.....can I say the Yukon? Or is it just Yukon? 

Anywho, what a wonderful journey to take with Open Pit Theatre, to be able to travel to Dawson City. Thank you Air North for the tickets! I hadn't been to Dawson City since I was seven years old and it's way more fun to go as an adult. Connecting with the community, doing a little jig or in my case a reallllllllly long jig as I jumped into the talent contest with a local fiddler and that second song was a gooder. We came third.  After Dawson City and a few days rest, we got to perform against the back drop of the mountains in Carcross. Our team was like a well oiled machine packing up the set and setting up within thirty minutes. Dang, we're good.

The second best part of these travels and adventures was sharing it with the cast. A cast that loves to share their own stories, songs and dance freely. We had long fun conversations, mini dance parties and laughed quite a bit. I was worried at first at being able to memorize all my roles for the show though with the support of Jessica Hickman (director extraordinaire) and the rest of the cast, it all came together. And "Voila!" 

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The best, best part of this play was that I got to work in my second home, see I have family that live in Whitehorse, Watson Lake and all over the Yukon. "I wasn't born here sadly" born in raised in Ottawa, On though moved to Whitehorse in 1999 to live with my Dad and I then graduated from the old F.H Collins High-school in 2001. I was part of the Music, Arts and Drama program so I was having a few flashbacks to my high-school days while we rehearsed Busted Up at the Yukon Arts Centre. As we performed Busted Up last night on the Yukon Art Centre stage, it occurred to me that the last time I had performed on that stage was in 2001. Seventeen years later to come full circle.

I've always felt a connection, as my family being here and many memories. The land, or shall I say the spirit of the land gets into your bones. So it's been an absolute pleasure to come and work here, to be able to fulfill a personal promise of sharing stories from Yukon. 

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Thank you to Jessica and Genevieve for putting this show together, all your hard work and passion. To be able to perform for my family, for old friends has been so special, it's actually hard to put into the words. Thank you to the cast, Brenda, Caleb, Justin, JD, Roy, Gen for your talent and humor, frik gonna miss playing around with you all! Woosh!. Thank you to Lea for being a bright light and keeping me on track. My heart feels full after this experience, it's something special and strengthens my connection to the Yukon. It's in my bones, part of my spirit and Creator willing, I'll always get to come back to visit.

~ Nyla Carpentier (Vancouver, BC)

Busted Up: A Yukon Story 2018

Fresh Eye

"Thank you. Tomorrow, when someone talks to me, I will listen better."

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We landed in Dawson city on Friday morning. For some of us, it was the first time being there. For me it wasn't new anymore. But the beautiful thing about watching someone discovering a place for the first time is that you might remember the feeling of seeing with fresh eyes. Making it possible to see again the details you stopped noticing because of habit.

I remembered the first time I saw Fall in the Yukon. The vibrance of the leaves. That specific shade of orange of the balsam poplars. And the overwhelming admiration I had for it. The mountains. And how it became part of my everyday and faded out in its intensity.

In rehearsal, I hear the actors discovering and rediscovering their lines, making their intentions fresh, and acting as if they were saying those words for the first time. And I am inspired to listen for that new quality, that new discovery when I call cues.

We had the first show of our tour on Saturday night in Dawson city. 

And in front of that new audience, I was blown away by how suddenly some parts of the show started resonating and coming alive in a new way.

And during talkback, someone commented that the show inspired them to listen better.

And I remembered that it is that simple.

~ Léa Roy Bernatchez (Whitehorse, YT)

Busted Up: A Yukon Story 2018

Half Half

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I'm not two halves, I am whole. And I've grown tired of being divided. Not half blue, half red -- purple. I determine what I am, and if I celebrate that fact, or die on a hill defending it. And one day, I would hope that I no longer have to defend it, that it simply is.

We have our own little adventure crew: The trickster, the warrior, the dancer, the explorer, the storyteller, the woodsman, the wisewoman, the leader.

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They are more than these labels, of course, but the fact remains that they are all individuals, all irreplaceable, different facets coming to light with each character they portray.

And they're good. Not just at acting, but good human beings. These are the types that you wish you got to be with your whole life, but instead only see when fate fashions the right moments. They are dreamwalkers, storyspinners, remembrancers.

Seadreamers, skimming along the surface of reality and sanity.

I mean, it all sounds so serious according to me; we're also a bunch of funbags that start laughing so hard that Jess has to dial us back so we can get some work done.

~ Caleb Gordon (Calgary, AB)

Busted Up : A Yukon Story 2018

Hunter and Gatherer

Fall is the most wonderful time of the year. The return of sweater weather, snowy mountain tops, stars and stoking the wood stove. What is there not to like? 

In addition to its cozyness, I find fall in the Yukon to be yet another reminder of people's unique relationship to this land. It's also very fitting that fall is becoming the annual time for a Busted Up: A Yukon Storyproduction. Exactly a year after the premiere of Busted Up at the Old Fire Hall, the cast is re-united for a second round of this play that explores this very relationship to land.

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I don't have the words to describe the relief I feel when after the frenzy of a Yukon summer, people re-ground and prepare for the long winter ahead. For a lot of us, this means to forage, gather and hunt. Even some of my more "urban" Whitehorse friends turn into hunter\gatherers for the very short shoulder season. The bush, mushrooms, berries and wild meat is on everyone's mind. I'm not sure if this happens because of our urgency to spend time outside before the ground freezes, or if it's due to the incredible display of colours and foods that appear all around us. Either way, autumn is a time of true celebration of what this place generously provides for us, year after year. 

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In my house hold, hunting season is a big friggin' deal - I have actually been asked\told by my beloved husband not to be in any plays during hunting season, ever again.  I kind of get it and completely disagree at the same time. Spending all this time in rehearsals definitely taps into my berry picking and hunting time. It also really interferes with the delightful "slow the fuck down" phase that usually takes place for me in September.

This being said, what better way to celebrate this place than to dive into stories of this land? Stories and thoughts that were gifted to us from people of all ages, from all over the territory. Stories and thoughts that remind me that, same as for hunting and gathering, if you just take the time to look around and really listen, you'll be surprised by what you discover.  

Anytime I share this play, I feel humbled and grateful for the connection I have to this place, this time and the people around me. This gratitude won't keep me fed through the winter, but there's always Super Store. 

Unbusted

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Well, I'm back with these chuckle heads.    

To be honest we're only a few days in and my already high expectations for the fun we would have with this crew have been exceeded.   The returning and new members of the "Busted Up" crew really do make this experience feel more like a "Coming together".  My heart is full.  I grew up in the Northern parts of Saskatchewan and haven't actually been back many times since I moved, but the air and people here makes me feel like I'm home again.   

It's also very rewarding to come back to a project after a year away.   Over the past year there were plenty of times where an idea on how to approach a character popped into my head while out walking or taking a shower or on the bus and now there's a chance to bring those ideas into the space and make them reality.   This hasn't happened often for me in my professional work, so I can't wait to get this one on its feet with these amazing humans.  I mean, look at them.  How can you not love them?

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Do I know these people in real life?

  Brenda at 30 years of age!

Brenda at 30 years of age!

One of the challenges about performing in a verbatim play, where the characters are drawn from where it is both lived and played, is the responsibility towards those people. There’s also a fear that if people recognize themselves in the script, will we, the actors, have done them justice? Or, oh my god, do I know these people in real life?

I don’t know any of the characters I play in real life. I don’t think. But, I do recognize a type of bigotry I portray in one. It comes from the lived experience at being the target of discrimination.

What are the chances that in one adult lifetime one can travel from a profession where your very being is considered illegal to being able to portray your oppressor? That’s quite the arc.

I used to think that if I could only understand the fear and emotion behind the bigotry then I could accurately portray the character. I’ve learned that the words speak for themselves. And the character endures. Something essential endures, no matter who speaks the words.

~ Brenda Barnes (Whitehorse, YT)

Busted Up: A Yukon Story 2018

First Day of School!

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As I caught the bus up the hill headed towards the Yukon Art Centre for the first day of rehearsal I couldn't help but feel tingling anticipation takeover inside of me as if I were the new kid in town on the first day of school.

That anticipation rang like a bell in my brain. New team, new show, new adventure... no time for nerves. Before I knew it we were all laughing together, building the set together, playing together and discovering things together as if we had known each other for years.  Within just minutes of us all gathering together for the first time, that feeling of being the new kid melted away and I was left with a feeling of creation and kinship. 

I have to say the first step of any new journey is always the most exciting but I have an especially good feeling about this one: The people, the passion and this hidden frozen gem of a place! Can't wait for day two.

~ Justin Lapena (Surrey, BC)

Busted Up: A Yukon Story 2018

Oh my god...what is this place?

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Talk about a journey, a celebratory ride, the best director, playwright, cast and crew a person could ask for.  Open Pit Theatre has raised the bar in my mind of the way a company should treat their staff, the talent and the art form.   Great accommodations, great rehearsal venues, good pay, great snacks, great coffee and mostly an incredible respect for process and artistic evolution.   Never have I been told by a director to just trust where I organically land.  

It was a difficult ride, I haven’t worked 8 hour days in a long time let alone 6 days a week.  I also suffer from osteoarthritis in both knees and throughout the rehearsal I came down with pneumonia.  This made it extremely hard to get up in the morning, to remember my lines, to get my blocking,  …. but I was always encouraged to take care of myself, to rest, to do what I needed to do to make the rehearsal process work for me.   I never felt any pressure... the concern for my health and well being was genuine and was a priority.   Everyone in the cast always felt safe and supported.  

So here I sit and my fellow actor mates sit in their homes, after a 7 week soulful arc, most of us flew back from Whitehorse to our cities down south.  My heart broke once again as I sat on the plane watching the sun disappear … and I shake my head thinking did all that beauty really happen?

Have you heard the north call?

"In 1992 I was 25 years old and I bought a 1966 red VW pop up simply because it was the year I was born and it had a set of horns on its dashboard . It didn’t even work.   I had just been cast in the theatre production of “The Rez”  and my friend Dean Eyre asked if he could fix my VW could he borrow it for the summer and go to Whitehorse?  I said yes but the night before he left I called him and I said can I come with you? and he said yes… and my agent kindly reminded me that I would never be able to do theatre again in BC and I never did. 

This three day journey was a majestic and awesome one, I learn’t how to drive a stick and at one point we saw one of our tires bounce ahead of us on the Alaska highway and down a ditch, When we finally arrived to Whitehorse, we helped a banjo busker (Kim Barlow) move her things to an abandoned house down the long lake road affectionately called “the Daisy House’.  Before we did that though we had a couple of beers at the Capitol which is now the Dirty Northern and watched strippers strip down to their birthday suits and dance on stage around a pole.  Welcome to Whitehorse and welcome to the Yukon!

That summer we parked our van outside the Daisy House where about a dozen of us squatted  ( Kim Beggs, Zola, Karen Sullivan, Joe Bishop etc) We would cook on an outdoor fire and camp stove and we washed our dishes in the Yukon River.  At night we would pass two or three guitars around the fire and take turns playing songs by Dillon, Chapman, Morrison and Mitchell.   We enjoyed almost 20 hours of sunlight each day and we loved, grew up and supported each other the best we could. Most of us had temp jobs and most of us stayed past the summer to become legit sourdoughs.  I never returned back to BC and I abandoned my life there and stayed another 8 years here"

This is my Busted Up Yukon Story and its always a magical one, one you share with your family and friends, the type of story that has the weight you would want to pass to your grandchildren... just ask anyone who has ever come up here right ?  So here I am 25 years later where the Shipyards are now manicured, there is no Capital, or Taku and hardly anyone wears long johns anymore and they all wash their hair, not very people even own a truck and no one even hitchhikes anymore .

Busted Up is an echo of everyone’s story that has ever come up here… thats why it resonated for some many people , thats why it affected deeply  the guest artists who came up here for the first time.  There are so many passages in the play that people could relate to , that people have heard, that people have said …. so many people laughed and cried, others got angry but most of all people started dialoguing, there was a buzz in the street to go see that play, to go see that love letter to the Yukon.

My heart and head are moved once again in an enormous way by my experience with my dear cast mates, by Open Pit Theatre, with Busted Up: A Yukon Story and by the silence, the northern light and the thick healing energy of the Yukon!

And that’s your gift for today and yesterday and tomorrow… and yet mosquito...

The jobs of these Animals

Full disclosure, I may be a bit drunk on life (and alchohol) when I start to write this.  An evening of fire, singing songs and laughing about the last month and a half of experiences will do that to you.

You know, sometimes you take a gig and you by the end of it you kind of feel like...

Thankfully, this hasn't been the case in the slightest.  It is always a pleasure when the people you work alongside have passion and are genuinely good humans.  We all know that the arts bring drama, and not always in the good on stage for everyone to enjoy way.  People as in any profession can be difficult at times, impossible at the worst times even, but in a 200 pounds of beautiful way, that wasn't the case here.  I'll miss these knuckleheads and the laughs we all enjoyed together.   

Everyone came here to work, everyone was easy about it and none of us animals failed to live up to the agreement that we made.  In the end a story of the Yukon that has the voices of 33 characters was formed and as we do our final show in Haines Junction it is without worry that I say I'm confident the performance will be one that will connect with each person in the audience in it's own way.  

We not only managed to chase down those sparks we individually were tasked to chase, but we kept our eye on that fire that they flew from.  

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My time in the Yukon is one I'll always treasure.  This has been a gift to know these people and to experience what and why these characters in this show are saying what they are saying.  There is a real connection here with people to this place.  I feel it, I know it. 

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P.S. Working with Gen and Jess? That ain't work. Eh, Barnes? 

 

Busted Open in Whitehorse

 Photo by Alistair Maitland Photography

Photo by Alistair Maitland Photography

Some have asked me what it’s like taking on my first full-time theatre acting job at 55? How’s it going, how are you feeling Barnes?

Physically exhausted, yet emotionally exhilarated. I’m the kind of tired where I fall asleep within seconds, but with a smile on my face. Being in the moment in a kind of way that realizes every second how incredibly lucky I am to be a part of any of it. Experiencing an instant rapport and comradery I have not felt since I was a young person in community radio.

I am having the time of my life. Every day.

The best part is being and creating with beautiful, committed, loving, self-deprecating, witty, smarter and younger adult humans. That is the prescription for hope if you have ever felt as though you have lost it. Sometimes, I want to live forever in that moment of anticipation holding onto all of you just before we step on stage.

Hello risk. I’ve missed you.

Thank you Busted Up for choosing me to be a part of this. However long it may last.

P.S. I may haunt CCC road after the run looking for Roy back rubs. Oh, also being around Genevieve every day? That ain’t work.

Bust a Leg!

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Alright so, in the spirit of verbatim theatre and Busted Up: A Yukon Story, I thought I would, uh, narrate this, orate this, instead of trying to write something out.  Umm, so I’ll try to keep it to about three minutes, and here goes…

Uh, we just finished cue-to-cue, er not so much finished as got about halfway through. For those that are not initiated, cue-to-cue is this painstaking process that, once you’ve gotten out of rehearsal you, uh, go through with the lighting designer and sound designer every step of the way to make sure, you know, the actors look good.  They’re lit properly, the sounds come in at the right time. It’s not a very flattering experience for a performer because you, come to realize that you’re largely a puppet in a much… uh, broader scenario. I don’t know, umm…  (pause)

But, in some senses that’s what I like about this show. Because, aaaacting is a very self-involved, and or can be, a very egocentric endeavour, and uh, I think this show is… eehhh… collaborative, ensemble-based, community-oriented in the best sense of the word and I’m not trying to blow smoke. I’m just trying to say that, uh, it’s a very good coming together of people who want to tell a story about the place that we love. Which is Yukon, obviously, the Yukon, whatever. 

Bout 10 years ago when I abandoned the idea of, ah, acting professionally and elected to, uh, be an amateur for life, uhh…. I, I felt very empowered because I wanted to do theatre on my own terms. Umm, projects that I felt had merit.  Umm. And, uhhh, that’s been doubled down since I’ve become a father, I have so little spare time.  I want to make sure that anything that I’m going to invest my energy into and my time into, is something that I feel, uhh, is worthwhile. Not only in terms of my growth as a individual performer, but in terms of the audience and the community that the works are being presented to. 

So, I don’t know how this is going to go, because, uh, it it’s a, it’s a brazen thing that that I think Open Pit Theatre is doing here. Umm, it’ll probably be well received because people are polite and diplomatic, umm… But, but hopefully… uhhh, hope, you know, hopefully it, resonates with, er, our community.  And uhhh, helps us reflect on ourselves and actualize or visualize what we want to be into the future.

Umm, the play deals with a lot of themes about, uh, the legacy that we’re handing to our children, and our unborn children. And that’s become a very acute realization for me through this process, having my daughter Lupin present at rehearsals and participating in rehearsals – thanks Jessica. Umm, we want to make sure what we’re doing is propelling us towards a future that that is something that we’re proud of.  And I’m pretty sure even though, uh,  we’re in the melee here, I’m pretty sure I’m proud of this.

Um, so I’m humbled and grateful and thankful to the… all those involved for making this experience what it is. And, uh, it’s a it’s a gift to me.  And I’m pleased to share – I want to share it with you. So, come see the show, it’s opening week!  Uh, and let’s have a good yak about it. 

Much love,

Roy (Performer)

I’m not sure how to say this.

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There’s an overwhelming feeling of peace that is present here, in the Yukon. I’ve been in town for three weeks now, working hard, but I’m not stressed, I’m not consumed by worries. This is a magical place.

Working on this show has given me an insight into the community that exists here, and I’m grateful I get to interact with these people in such a unique manner. To learn lines, mannerisms and dialects of real people that may come to see the show is an incredible honour, and quite scary at the same time. What if I don’t represent them well enough? What if I change the meaning of their words with my tone?

Luckily for us, Geneviève (the playwright) is always watching and listening, making sure that we stay on track. In a sense, she’s the guardian of these words that have been gifted to us, and she is upholding her duty to ensure they are conveyed appropriately. As we work through this process, 6 days a week, 9 to 5, I’ve seen that I can trust her to make sure we are being truthful to the people that have lent us their voices.

This play is a huge undertaking, and I cannot wait to experience the payoff. Many theatre companies cannot take new works and build them with experienced, talented individuals -- and yet Open Pit Theatre has managed to do exactly this. I am excited to be working with these artists, with their bright and beautiful voices.

I want to share the experience of Brenda’s laughter enveloping JD’s intensity, Brooke’s soundscapes gliding underneath Roy’s silence.  Each of these people embody the idea of an artist, and I feel that I have been gifted with an environment to grow and explore in.


And the land!

I’ve enjoyed waking up every morning, walking downtown, watching the landscape. The river, steaming in the early morning. Clouds pouring over the mountains surrounding the city. Foxes darting behind bushes near the hospital. The stark contrast of landscape and industry. It’s the perfect setting --

Heck, someone should write a play about it.

- Caleb Gordon (Performer)

Nobody puts baby in a box!

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Wait, that’s not the phrase, is it….

Okay, let me explain. My name is Kaitlyn, and I am a 5’2, small(ish)-framed human with a baby face. I am going to be asked for my ID until I’m at least fifty. Though I am 24 years old, but the roles that I am cast in on the stage typically range from 10-15 years old. Oh how I have longed to hit puberty in the performance world!

Hey, I won’t complain- I have been extremely fortunate to have played amazing young roles in my time thus far. However, through the never-ending cycle of same-age roles, I made myself a happy little home within a cardboard box that the industry had provided me. I found some comfort within the un-comfiness(not a word… but let’s just go with it) that is being an artist. 

Until I began this project.

What drew me to this project was the challenge of stepping outside of my little cardboard box. To oil up my rusty machine of playing roles my own age, and older. This was terrifying. Before I got here, I spent many frustrating hours trying to figure out how the hell a 50-something year-old woman was going to sit in my body. How do I play this role authentically, but still putting it in a place that is real to me?

In reality, I can’t pretend that I am any taller, older, or wiser. But there is a beautiful word in this industry called PROCESS- a word I overuse because of its importance. Process means that you never get it right the first time- or the second, or third, or fourth, or EVER(yikes, imagine that?!). I might get to opening night having not convinced anyone that I have eleven children and got both of my hips replaced. But, when I get to opening night, I will have something that I am proud of. I will have acquired tools that I didn’t have previously. I will have learned so many things I never knew from the wisdom, creativity and support of my cast and creative team. I will approach older roles with a lot more confidence. I will have a greater understanding of my body and what it can do.

I have already learned so much through the guidance of our director, Jessica Hickman, who has provided us with a safe space and incredible tools to be able to explore ourselves, and continuously discover where each of these characters sit within us.

Being an artist has helped me have a much greater understanding on life, as well as performing  (it wouldn’t be a Kaitlyn blog post without a small existential rant). Being happy with your journey, rather than the end result, has helped me tremendously on how I choose to guide my life. I find beauty in smaller moments, I try to remind myself that is is okay to make mistakes, and I try to forgive myself constantly for being human.

I am not a perfect person. I am not a perfect artist. I am always a work in progress and that is something I am proud of.

- Kaitlyn Yott (Performer)

Real Life Characters

There are many different ways for performers to approach verbatim theatre characters. Some productions have their cast listen to all the interviews for them to get a vivid sense of the person behind the characters. Some companies go as far as having the performers wear ear buds and listen to the recordings of interviews as they say the lines so they can replicate as precisely as possible every intonation shift.

Open Pit Theatre decided to go down a different path. None of the performers have access to any of the audio recordings. Jess and I wanted to maintain people's anonymity (as much as a small town allows it) and we especially wanted to avoid having actors imitate or mimic the interviewees.  For us, what mattered was for the performers to be true to the essence of the people we interviewed rather than striving for a documentary-like accuracy.

We started by all sitting down together to talk about these characters. Jess and I shared what we recall of them physically, what they were wearing, how they smelt, their mannerisms, tone of the voice, where the interview took place, etc. With that information and all the insight that the exact transcriptions offer as far as speech patterns, stutters, hesitations and accents, each performer's job was to find their own interpretations of the real Yukoners behind the characters, with guidance from the director and myself as playwright.

We are one week into rehearsals and it has been so gratifying to see all these words I have been reading over and over and over again in the editing process come to life. During our very first read through, I was fascinated to hear performers absolutely nail characters they have never met before. JD, a Saskatchewan raised and Vancouver based actor read the part of Bill, a Yukon miner, with such accuracy that I thought to myself "He knows him!!! How does he know him?!" But he didn't. It's been just as interesting to discover new layers of the script by hearing some of thewords delivered in a slightly different way than how the interviewees spoke them. I love to see these new perspectives emerge and I am finding that they often emerge when a character is being played by a performer from a very different age group, shape or ethnicity. When Brenda plays the role of a character who is described by his peers as "the local redneck" or when our youngest cast member Katlyn plays the role of a woman who's been in the Yukon for over 40 years, I find their stories and statements resonate in a different way. Strangely, I hear the words themselves more.

With several more weeks to go before opening, I can't wait to see how these real-life characters mature in the rehearsal hall. 

- Geneviève Doyon (Playwright/Performer)

Powerful Yukon women in theatre...

5 days until rehearsals begin. 

I was sitting here staring at my never ending to do list when I started thinking about the powerful Yukon women on our team.  I noticed that one of my items on my list was to write the first project blog. Ok, here goes! 

FYI - In keeping with our mandate to have an open and transparent creation process, we will be having each of our performers write a blog about their experience during rehearsals and the shows.  So keep checking back in! 


  Photo by: Emilie Lavoie

Photo by: Emilie Lavoie

First there is Geneviève Doyon.  Some of you may know her.  She spent the last 3 years crafting Busted Up: A Yukon Story, and now not only is she the playwright of the piece but also performing for the first time since her sweet baby Löic arrived. My thoughts go to Kim Colliers acceptance speech for the Siminovitch Prize, "To all women director / creators with children: bravo, be brave and break the mold–carry them in the hall, breast feed between the seats, go on tour together, whisper about process and actors and what worked and what didn’t. Include your kids in your life, let them learn from your passion."  She is the absolute best. 


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Then there is Selene Vakharia, our incredible producer.  Selene has been working her ass off for over four months getting everything ready for the show.  I have never met ANYONE who can have literally 45 tabs open at the same time on her computer.  I feel anxiety even looking at her screen but it doesn't seem to faze her.  My favourite quote from Selene so far is, "I just wish that the internet could follow me around."  She is calm under pressure, always up for a laugh, and has been the force behind this production.  We are so lucky that she wanted to join the team. 


And then there is the fabulous Erin Corbett, our production manager.  Erin knows her shit.  I can't tell you the relief I felt when she said, "Just send me the contract and I will deal with it."  Sweet. Not only can she decipher a contract like no one else, but she also catches my mistakes, which is incredible because I NEVER MAKE MISTAKES. We also have a mutual love for spreadsheets, which I think really brings women together these days.  Nothing like settling in and combing through some formulas to get those endorphins pumping.  She is rad, and I feel super lucky that she is working on this show.  


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New to the game is Rebecca Smith, our technical director.  Although quiet at first, Rebecca has surprised me on multiple occasions.  She seemed uncertain but when I saw that Tech Rider she made, I was like, "yessssssss."  And then that time I asked her to send a sound plot and she said, "I'm on the road travelling right now, I won't be able to do it until we get to a campsite later (I am super paraphrasing)" and then an hour later there was a sound plot in my inbox.  Incredible.  I hope she starts getting hired more as a TD because she is awesome. 


Starting last week (the last to join the team)(it's ok we won't hold it against you), is our stage manager Léa Roy.  I am super excited to have Lea on the team because she is a dancer/performer who is extremely organized and efficient. In my mind, the perfect combination for an incredible stage manager.  She will be able to tune into the performers and call the show in a way that I think brings out the best possible performance.  It's going to be awesome. 

 


A big shoutout to all the women theatre artists working their asses off out there.  I am super proud of our team, and can't wait to get these rehearsals rolling!!

- Jessica Hickman (Director)

 

 

 

 

Do you want to follow along?

Last week we shared a personal story with the group which led to each of us creating a sequence of gestures to represent the story. 

On Monday I decided that I would choreograph, on the spot, a sequence that combined some of the gestures that were shown.  I then taught this new sequence to the group.  At first we learned the choreography using counts which is generally how I teach. This became a problem because we weren't using any music and I realized that in order for us all to stay together one of us would have to be counting out loud.   We then decided that it might be easier to go through the moves and establish, as a group, where the inhalations and exhalations occured.  So we went through the sequence one move at a time and decided how we were breathing and for how long.  Suddenly we could do the choreo all together without anyone counting aloud because our breath was synced.

As the leader of this particular exercise, I then asked the others (Sam, Genevieve, and Sarah) if they would do the sequence facing me in a tight formation.  I noticed that the first half of the sequence was much cleaner than the second, so I temporarily cut the second half and asked them to do the first half over and over again.  I wasn't happy with the three of them doing it together, so I asked Sarah to come and join me as the audience.  I then asked Sam and Genevieve to start at the opposite end of the room, and repeat the sequence side by side as they travelled across the room.  I asked them to never look at one another, and to use the word hunt as their point of concentration.  I also gave them permission to repeat any part of the choreo if they wanted to.  Here is what they did:

Since then I have continued to shape this piece by taking the moments that I liked from the improv and rehearsing them into a scene that could be performed (in the sense that the actors aren't improvising anymore).  

I thought it would be interesting for you, the reader, to see how this improvisation develops over the next few weeks.  Stay tuned for more.

- Jessica Hickman

L'histoire d'un geste

Il y a autant de manières de créer une histoire qu'il y a d'histoire. Ça fait beaucoup.

On peut partir d'un lieu, d'un thème, d'un personnage, d'une couleur, d'un évènement, d'une condition humaine etc... Viennent ensuite les différentes manière de développer cette histoire. Encore une fois il y a une multitude de manières de procéder. Je pense cependant qu'elles se divisent en deux larges catégories: soit on travaille intellectuellement, soit on travaille corporellement. Personnellement, je suis une partisante du travail corporel comme moteur de création.

 

Je m'explique.

Je trouve qu'en cherchant une histoire dans sa tête, on risque de l'intellectualiser et l'éloigner de la vérité. L'histoire devient ce qu'on pense qu'elle devrait être. Ce qui n'arrive jamais dans la vie. Plutôt que d'évoquer l'histoire, on la démontre, la souligne, la surligne, on l'essoufle, et on finit par la vider. Lorsqu'on part du corps, on part de notre instinct. Ce dernier est selon moi bien plus fiable et pûr que nos cerveaux saturés. En retournant à nos impulsions plutôt qu'à nos connaissances, on se rapproche de l'humanité. Ce qui me semble un bon point de départ lorsqu'on fait du théâtre.

Depuis le début du travail avec Open Pit, nos trouvailles les plus intéressantes ont été accidentelles. À chaque fois que nous avons intellectualiser le schéma narratif d'une improvisation plutôt que de se donner le temps de le découvrir à travers nos actions, le résultat était prévisible et futile. J'ai trouvé que le plus concluant pour nos explorations était de partir de gestes simples mais évocateurs, et de laisser ceux-ci nous porter vers un récit qui nous était encore inconnu. Il est intéressant de remarquer que les mêmes gestes sont porteurs de différents sens dépendemment de qui les fait, comment, et avec qui. Maintenant que nous avons un vocabulaire corporel commun, il nous est possible d'orchestrer ces différents mouvement pour générer du sens et des récits.

Chaque geste contient une histoire, il suffit de lui donner l'espace suffisant pour qu'elle grandisse. Un regard de côté, une tête baissée, un poing qui se ferme, un haussement d'épaule. Ce sont ces mouvements que nous connaissons tous tellement qu'on les oublie qui renferment les plus grands secrets d'amour, de défaite, et de trahison. Pas les idées pré-conçues qu'on s'en fait.

- Geneviève Doyon

when things make sense the first time

Dear recorded sounds (voices, stories, streetscapes, environments, instances, interviews; anything that once happened live captured in an audio recording);

There is something very beautiful about you.

Listening to someone tell a story captured in their real time when their real time has nothing to do with the time we’re in, that’s a beautiful thing. We feel it when we listen to old audio of whatever, speeches, commercials, interviews, broadcasts, there is something in audio recordings that captures a moment’s essence.

Last week each of us told the group a story of a time when we didn’t get what we expected. We recorded those stories in the moment. The audio was transcribed unedited (no punctuation and including all ahs, umms, ands, buts). The next day each of us read the directly transcribed version of our story to the group.

What happened was, frankly, awkward. Faced with the written transcriptions of our stories in black and white, we tripped and faltered over our own words and could hardly make sense of our original stories and intentions; the text was almost unintelligible in some places. There were some feelings of embarrassment, of ‘Oh God I didn’t really sound like that did I?’. And the reality is yes. We did. We speak how we speak and an audio recording doesn’t let us escape that. It holds us to how we expressed ourselves in a given time and place.

When we originally shared the stories, we understood each other perfectly well. But the written versions of our speech, when originally met, were stilted and confusing. It was only after a good revisit, punctuating, and editing that the stories started to make more sense. The words were meant for speaking, not writing. In order to make easier sense in written form they needed to be shuffled around, organized, lined up in little rows.

There’s something really magical and interesting about not being able to make immediate sense of an exact transcript of our own words.

That’s all I really have to say about that. I liked it a lot.

And I think there is a mirror of this experiment happening in our process as a whole; recurring ideas are being explored, pared down, distilled – losing some verbosity, gaining some clarity. Cutting away, away, away without losing the impulses and excitement of the original discoveries. It’s a process of taking things back up again and trying to make sense of them in and of themselves and in relation to one another.

Tackling a recurring theme or image is much like being faced with the transcribed versions of our stories; we knew what we meant at the time, but now we have to face the idea again, make sense of it, and see what life can be explored there.

- Sarah Moore