Staging local talent

As the sunshine creeps into the evening and temperatures slowly rise toward double-digits, some art organizations’ seasons are winding down.

One of the final accomplishments in focus for Nakai Theatre is a barrage of local performance artists. Also affectionately known as the Homegrown Festival.

“It’s emerging artists, first-time artists and artists who are devoting their life to the craft of theatre and performance,” Nakai’s artistic director David Skelton explains.

He describes this year’s Homegrown over a lunch break, neglecting his soup in order to articulate each exciting detail.

“You have people who are working in a very focused and extended way on projects that are very refined and sophisticated. Then you have people that are just getting into it,” he says.

“They don’t really understand all the things that are required, but they create something and it has within it a kind of energy, a kind of rough-and-ready quality that is nonetheless exciting to watch.”

From May 20 to 24, Homegrown weaves together about 18 different performances at the Guild Hall. Altogether the festival demonstrates a variety of genres and applications, from comedy and drama, to dance and conceptual art productions.

Skelton worked on the festival in 2004, but he says this year’s lineup especially showcases some creative work in multi-media performance art.

“I think what it indicates is that people’s interests, or what people think is a way to express things, is changing,” he says. “It becomes easier at this point with technology for people to create animation on their laptop and project it.”

At the helm of these artistic productions are both new and familiar faces. Skelton says there’s an exciting list of fresh young artists presenting, including Amber Walker and Raistlen Jones, as well as Joseph Tisiga.

Local artists – and past Homegrown presenters – Brian Fidler and Celia McBride are also showcasing their talents. Skelton says both Yukon arts veterans will be presenting new pieces they’ve been working on.

And there’s even action off the stage – Nicole Bauberger will create her hot wax paintings on site. This time around she’ll dream up 100 dresses reflecting the festival.

Skelton says this mixture of recognizable and budding artists truly complements what the festival is all about.

“People who have participated in past ones are doing it again. So I think it’s like one way that in this town people can get introduced to it [performing arts],” Skelton says.

“They can take their first step, either as an individual going into theatre for their first time or they can take their first step with a piece.”

There are five nights of entertainment in three venues at the Guild Hall, which includes the black box, cabaret and Fidler’s site-specific show in the Guild prop shed.

In order to catch each act on the schedule, festival-goers will have to attend two nights. But Skelton does the math – with single-digit ticket prices it works out to less than a dollar a performance.

“That’s pretty reasonable,” he says and then finally leans in for a spoonful of soup.

PHOTO: MORGAN WHIBLEY [email protected]

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