Lovers of the stage were treated to quite a special performance of Inuk and the Sun by the John Arnalukjuak High School Drama Club this past week in Arviat.
The critically acclaimed and internationally successful work by Henry Beissel has been described as a masterpiece by some in the world of theatre, and the Arviat troupe met, and exceeded, director Gord Billard’s expectations with their performance, who said the performance was “fabulous.”
He originally had plans for the production that he decided to forgo in the name of simplicity, and the move was successful, he said.
“Instead of building an iglu frame, we had the image of an iglu projected onto the back screen and I used some movie magic to add special effects to the projections like a light coming on inside of an iglu and that sort of stuff,” said Billard.
“My fellow teacher, Sarah Bruckschwaiger, has extensive experience in the industry and she was invaluable for this show,” he continued. “She helped in every aspect, – makeup, costumes, directing, editing, props – became my right arm in the production, and was responsible for making it run more smoothly than I ever could have on my own.”
Billard said the original show was going to be about 90 minutes, but he and Bruckschwaiger trimmed it down to a neat one-hour performance.
Parts of the play they found to be repetitive or redundant were removed and the result was a show that was easier to watch for their audience.
“Cheryl Nibgoarsi played the main lead of Inuk and was her usual excellent self in the play, being in every single scene, having hundreds and hundreds of lines to remember and doing really well throughout her performance.
“Andy (Evaloakjuk) – a veteran of the stage here – also did well in his roles,” said Billard. “After Andy dies as the father, he comes back later in the role of the muskoxen and I found his performance very strong.”
“Phillip Okatsiak and Russell Suluk in the roles of the spirits of the wind and the moon also had fairly extensive roles, and they were very strong, as well.”
The drama club did four shows in Arviat on June 5 and 6, with two being school matinee affairs and two being evening shows for the public.
Billard said it was mentioned to him that Inuk and the Sun was an impressive show because every character was strong.
He said, usually, you can pick out one or two cast members who may be a little weaker in their acting skills, but audience members heard every word spoken by every character in Inuk and the Sun, and found the production to feature an all-around strong cast.
“We had live music for this production and our art director, Tiffany Muckpah, had the students in her class take all of the shadow puppets we made, make stencils of them, and create painted prints that we framed the stage with.”
“So, all the images of the animals and creatures from the play were on these prints created by the art classes, and John Gordon’s music class, along with musician Matthew Winnett, led an orchestra that we put backstage to handle all the special special sound effects such as dogs barking and wolves howling, and provide the drumming, guitar and background music.”
“That was really cool. It was the first time we ever tried it, and it worked out really well having a kind of little orchestra pit right in the corner of the stage.”
“Sarah’s (Bruckschwaiger) art class made all of the masks, which were absolutely beautiful, and also worked on the costumes, so it was a real combined effort on the part of the art, drama, and music departments at our school, which was (school principal) Romeo Fournier’s aim in scheduling us all at the same time to prepare for putting on this really fabulous show.”