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...