NUNAVIK THEATRE ARTS PROGRAM
Solo Chicken Productions is proud to have heralded the development and facilitation of an annual six-week mask & puppetry program in Canada’s Arctic region that ran from 2004-2012 with plans for future programs in the works.. The Innalik Mask & Puppetry Workshop began in March 2004 and involved more than 30 students from several grades at Innalik School in Inukjuak, Nunavik, working in various aspects of theatre and puppetry and culminating in the collective creation of a play that reflected the interests and lives of its young participants. The project was helmed by Lisa Anne Ross, and grew exponentially each year.
‘Support from community members was overwhelming and the workshop had record numbers of participants, at times swelling to three assistants and over 30 youth. Our studio was a hive of activity, whirling with paint, glue and laughter. Even the unseasonably cold weather and rumors of hungry wolves and polar bears couldn’t dampen our spirits as we set out to write a play that reflected both the rich history of the community and the uncertainty of its environmental future’. As the demand for the Nunavik Program grew in the community, a Leadership Training program was added (2010) to develop the skills of local talented students so that they could lead the program. In 2011, demand was so great that the program expanded to another community, resulting in the creation of the Kangirsuk Program, to run alongside the Inukjuak Program.
The program provided students with a safe, positive environment to explore and develop personal skills and to learn to use the arts as an alternate form of personal expression. Each year’s show strongly featured and reflected the joys and challenges faced within the community of Inukjuak and celebrated some of the amazing cultural talent within the region. Throat singing, Traditional and Modern Inuit Music, exploration of challenging themes such as suicide, alcohol abuse and bullying, esteem for their world-class landscape and respect for their elders all made its way into the work. This project yielded the creation of numerous original works, all written and performed in Inuktitut, and has received generous funding from The Ungaluk Program, Avataq Cultural Institute, and Canada Council, to name a few.