january 2019 | Volume 175
Photo: Jeremy Mimnagh.
KIINALIK: THESE SHARP TOOLS
by Evalyn Parry and Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory
Buddies in Bad Times Theatre/Touchstone Theatre
PuSh International Performing Arts Festival
Jan. 30-Feb. 2
Evalyn Parry is a queer white woman from Toronto and artistic director of Buddies in Bad Times Theatre. Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory is an Inuk woman from Nunavut and artistic director of Inuit Theatre in Qaggiavuut. The two met on board a ship traveling from Iqaluit to Greenland, struck up a friendship and decided to build a show together.
Kiinalik (the Inuktitut title references a sharp knife which also functions as a face and a mirror) finds them standing side by side telling the audience about themselves and their worlds against a backdrop of Alysha Poirier’s exquisite video of the Arctic with haunting accompaniment by Cris Derksen on cello.
Parry also sings her own folk tunes and plays guitar. Bathory performs a demonic, sexual Greenland mask dance in the audience. Sometimes the women sing together—a beautiful duet of “The Skye Boat Song” is a highlight. Sometimes Bathory provides vocal percussion with a kind of throat singing. Aleda Deroche’s sound design creates some complex amplification for the music and vocals.
The most compelling aspect of the performance is the way the two women offer their individual perspectives on “the North”—including the problematics of that very term. Bathory consistently underlines the colonial history of her homeland and the ongoing ways colonial attitudes and policies are consciously and unconsciously perpetuated.
Parry’s narrative is basically a record of her growing revelations about those colonial histories and policies of which she was largely unaware, and the habits, assumptions and language that help perpetuate them--including her own.
Side by side, their friendship and mutual artistry reinforces their history and civics lessons. The show provides education and entertainment in equal measure, as well as a moving paradigm for cross-cultural connection.
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