Unikkaaqtuat comes to the Port Theatre on Monday, Jan. 20. (Photo courtesy Sébastien Lozé)

Theatre production brings Inuit creation myths to the stage in Nanaimo

‘Unikkaaqtuat’ combines music, illustrations and circus arts

A new collaborative multimedia stage production exploring Inuit creation myths using music, animation and circus performance art is making its Western Canada debut in Nanaimo.

Unikkaaqtuat tells the story of a young Inuk who’s been flown south for medical reasons and then finds himself getting back in touch with old Inuit stories. The show, jointly created by Nunavut production companies Artcirq and Taqqut Productions, as well as Montreal’s The 7 Fingers, comes to the Port Theatre on Jan. 20.

The production is five years in the making and opened at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa on Jan. 9. That morning 7 Fingers co-artistic director Patrick Léonard said the cast and crew were “tired, nervous, ecstatic, happy and all those emotions at the same time.”

Léonard’s been travelling up north for the past 20 years. He said he’s made strong friendships working with multiple generations of Inuit artists and that it’s important to “bring back those stories to life” for the generations to come.

“Those stories have been told for hundreds and thousands of years through oral tradition and unfortunately in the last 50 years it’s slowly been lost and a lot of the youth either know a little bit of those stories or some not at all,” Léonard said. “So the idea was to say, ‘OK, let’s bring Inuit artists and southern artists together to tell those Inuit stories.”

He said an Inuit-inspired production combining music, circus art and animated projection hasn’t been staged before and when an early version of Unikkaaqtuat was performed in Iqaluit last summer the crowd went “totally crazy.”

“This is something that they can be so proud of and of course it made all of us very proud,” Léonard said. “Because that’s basically the goal of creating this show: We want to, all of us whether we’re Inuit or non-Inuit, the idea is to bring pride and strength to the Inuit.”

The production is mostly in the Inuit language of Inuktitut. Now that Unikkaaqtuat is coming to southern audiences for the first time, Léonard said he hopes to “immerse” those viewers in the Inuit experience while provoking curiosity. He said the artists aimed to be “true to ourselves and to those stories,” which means not shying away from darker themes. He said in the south there is a tendency towards happy endings, an expectation Unikkaaqtuat subverts.

“In this case I think [viewers] are going to be very destabilized, and that’s the goal,” he said. “But at the same time they will see so much beauty in those Inuit artists. So generous and so happy and proud to be onstage to tell those stories.”

WHAT’S ON … Unikkaaqtuat comes to the Port Theatre, 125 Front St., on Monday, Jan. 20. Pre-show event at 6:30 p.m. in the lobby, show at 7:30, post-show chat in the theatre. General admission $53, $48 for members. Tickets available at the box office.



arts@nanaimobulletin.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Cars crash on old Island Highway at Mary Ellen Drive

No injuries reported in accident, which happened at about noon

New B.C. Cannabis Store opens up shop in Parksville

Outlet at Wembley Mall open seven days per week

Editorial: Have your say on changes to assisted dying law

In June of 2016 Canadians gained the right to physician assisted death — but there were caveats.

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Supervised consumption keeps people alive

When the bureaucracy rules, personal responsibility and human decency suffer, says letter writer

Refugee experience to be explored in Nanaimo Museum exhibit

Refuge Canada to feature interactive exhibits, including an inflatable boat

Two cars crash in front of Nanaimo strip mall

Accident happened on old Island Highway at 9:30 a.m. on Friday

Diners’ health tax not catching on in B.C., restaurant group says

Small businesses look for options to cover employer health tax

Beefs & Bouquets, Jan. 23

To submit a beef or a bouquet to the Nanaimo News Bulletin, e-mail editor@nanaimobulletin.com

Former Mountie, sports coach convicted of sex abuse in B.C. granted day parole

Alan Davidson was sentenced to almost six years for abusing seven boys in the late 1970s and early 1990s

Maintenance work sees Sunday morning ferry sailing from Nanaimo cancelled

B.C. Ferries says Queen of Cowichan’s scheduled 6:15 a.m. sailing cancelled

B.C. comic wins judgment after club owner slaps cellphone out of his hands

Incident happened last summer when Garrett Clark was performing in Abbotsford

VIDEO: Mass coronavirus quarantines seen in China won’t happen in Canada, authorities say

‘If a case comes here, and it is probably … it will still be business as normal’

Owner surrenders dog suffering from days-old gunshot wound to B.C. SPCA

The dog was also found to be emaciated and suffering from a flea infestation

Most Read