Amateurs and Professionals Share the Spotlight: Nakai Theatre’s upcoming season

Nakai Theatre is back with a diverse season, showcasing fledgling Yukon talent as well as established professional shows from across Canada.

Their fourth season kicks off on Oct. 5 and 6 with the annual 24 Hour Playwriting Competition. Participants have an allotted amount of time to put their minds to the grindstone and come up with the best script they can manage.

“It’s an opportunity to close out the rest of your real world and just take 24 hours to work and work and work,” says David Skelton, the longstanding artistic director of Nakai.

A $50 fee grants participants a room in the Edgewater hotel, yoga sessions, writing advice from nearby dramaturges, as well as a full breakfast for those who make it to morning.

“It’s super fun being locked in a room – well you’re not locked in a room – but you’re in a room, and it’s late at night, or really early in the morning, and you’re sleep deprived and you’re trying to come up with great ideas,” says Skelton, “It’s fun – it’s really fun.”

Following the competition is the 24 Hour Playwriting Cabaret, in which the writers perform scenes from their freshly written plays in front of an audience, who vote for their favourite. The cabaret takes placeat the Yukon Inn on Nov. 9. The overall winner of the competition is chosen by judges, who pick based on which play is closest to being production-ready.

Next, Nakai will be co-producing the play Broken with Ramshackle Theatre. This one-man-show has already travelled across Canada, and will be touring Yukon communities throughout the month of November.

Broken is about a man dealing with his childhood and struggling with the reality of his grandfather’s battle with Alzheimer’s disease. It is written and performed by Brian Fidler.

In the new year, Nakai is co-producing the Pivot Theatre Festival with the Yukon Arts Centre from Jan. 20 to 26.

The festival will feature three shows that are touring down south.

Huff, written and performed by Cliff Cardinal, focuses on brothers who play video games while sniffing gas and features the trickster from First Nations’ mythology. It will be shown at The Yukon Arts Centre.

Blue Box, written and performed by Carmen Aguirre, intertwines politics and sex as it follows a Chilean resistance fighter while she sorts out her own passionate relationship. It will be shown at The Old Firehall.

How to Disappear Completely, written and performed by Itai Erdal, is a performance weaving together the art of theatrical lighting and a mother’s death from cancer. It will be shown at The Yukon Arts Centre.

The Pivot Theatre Festival will also present shows that are in development at Nakai, with readings and workshops aimed to develop works to the point where they can be fully produced.

Ynklude, an advocacy group for those with physical and intellectual disabilities, is also going to be presenting a show featuring both performance and film.

The season ends with another chance for prospective playwrights to show their stuff in the Homegrown Theatre Festival. From May 6 to 11,The Guild Theatre provides a space for people in the community to put on a show. Nakai provides the publicity as well as workshops for those wanting to showcase what they’ve been working on. This also serves as a final opportunity for those participants in the 24-Hour Playwriting Competition to get their work in front of an audience.

They will start accepting submissions in early February and will select up to 25 applicants. Show runtimes can be as short as five minutes or as long as 55 minutes.

“Nakai really values its place in the community,” says Skelton. “We want to be a vibrant force in terms of giving our audience better and more exciting theatre experiences, as well as making it possible for playwrights and play creators to develop as artists.”

For ticket information, event applications, and show times, check online at or find Nakai Theatre on Facebook.

Carl Christensen is a Whitehorse-based writer.

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