Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Young Voices 2011

Preshow! The seats in the audience are filled with new playwrights, experienced mentors and friends, fans of new theatre or dance, loads of support. A contagious enthusiasm fills the space. Two weeks earlier, the actors began reading drafts of each Young Voices play. Each script is the work of some brave fledgling: “New Plays by Emerging Aboriginal Playwrights” a headline might read.
A brief thought; is there something about an Aboriginal designation? Is it necessary? Yes we are proud. But who fills the audience tonight? Are they intimately tied to Native Earth or have they wandered in from the public? Does every Canadian go to shows like this? every Turtle Islander? Attending some great meeting of our aged and ageless family… No time to think, a discussion better left to the essayists, for this is a blog, and the show is about to begin! 10 minute excerpts,  also new dance works and spoken word to be shared. All the young artists worked very hard in order to give the audience their best work. Some danced hard. Some wrote long into the night. Some travelled from afar in order to participate. All are here to share now, and the show begins.
Lights up and the stage is littered with the papers of old script versions, editions of work now grown and changed. The territory is acknowledged in respect, and then actors enter the stage to begin their story. This is no tame staged reading. Two of the actors lay head to head, close to the audience, quietly, intensely showing their link to each other. Others wobble like caricature versions of drunken parliamentarians in Early Canada. Another sits quietly in the black depths, at the rear of the stage, ready to contribute his action, at the point in the story where he is needed. Everything is clear and apparent, simple yet deep, and the playwright is watching from the audience with bated breath. The story is shared and the audience applauds, then they ready for the next piece.
Weesageechak is the trickster, the creator of the world, Coyote perhaps, and he is to thank for bringing us this evening. With the hard work of the festival office, the generosity of funders, and the creativity of all, we are gifted with an evening of newness. Weesageechak is likely delighted. We see stunning play excerpts, seven in all. The plays are well on their way, wherever the writers wish them to go. Two vibrant, provocative dances entice the audience to ask for more. An Inuk poet slams his truth for all to enjoy, and take from his words what they will.
After the show, as is Native Earth tradition, there is snack, and people stay to visit. There are questions and congratulations for the playwrights, dancers, and performers. New viewpoints brew in the minds of the audience, hopefully new understanding about the diversity of our people for those who did not know. The transfer of knowledge and changing of generations occurs before our very eyes. It is a strong night for the Weesageechak Begins to Dance Festival. Strong enough, so that when everyone there goes home and sleeps, come morning they shall all find something new.
A chick is hatched from an egg. An arrowhead, long buried, is exposed by the night wind or the paws of coyote, coyly crossing the dark field, kicking up dirt and dust with no regard. Any of these could bring change: the plays, the dances, the truths; but somehow, in the imaginary field of snow and wintered grass and dirt, at dawn, something is there that was not there before.

-contributed by Intern Acting Apprentice, Rob Hunter

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