We get the theatre we deserve

When you think of plays, you think of The Guild and Nakai Theatre.

More and more people are thinking of Music Arts and Drama at the Wood Street Centre as the high-schoolers in the experiential program put on beloved plays for the general public.

However, not enough people are thinking of Moving Parts Theatre. This is a company that is all about training actors; the two plays it presents each year are designed to challenge the “students.”

We, the public, get to enjoy these plays which have proved to be a steady source of Shakespeare.

Some of the performers are not up to the challenges of a particular role, but it is always a joy to watch them try and to see how much they have improved from the last play.

Often, the performers are bang on and we, the audience, leave thinking, “There’s only 30,000 people in this territory and yet we have talent like this.”

Then there are the performances that can only be described as “spectacular”. For instance, Winluck Wong played John Merrick in the recently closed The Elephant Man without any makeup … without any gadgets of any kind.

That sack you saw over his head on our front cover a couple of weeks ago was used in only one scene. The rest of the time, on the sheer strength of Wong’s performance, he made the audience “see” the deformities.

It was mass hypnosis that will not be experienced again because that is the nature of plays: you see it … and it is gone. There are those who saw it … and those who missed it.

Although you see many Moving Parts Theatre members performing in Guild and Nakai plays, I doubt any of them think, “Oh wow, I took the next step.” No, they love acting and they will go where the juiciest parts are.

Now we have another theatre company in Whitehorse: Norm Easton and Joseph Graham are presenting Timber Rabbits – A Northern Mystery of Men, Madness, and Mutilation at the old Legion Hall Nov. 26 to 29 and Dec. 3 to 6.

The more the merrier, say members of our theatre community … actors, those behind the scenes and audiences alike.

Like Moving Parts Theatre, it does not receive government funding (except for a Yukon Arts Fund grant for a workshop). But, instead of watching every penny and hoping for adequate ticket sales, these two Yukoners are paying actors and stage hands … and really, really hoping for adequate ticket sales.

Its expenditures of up to $35,000, by some estimates, are spent in the hope that a truly Yukon story can be told and appreciated.

Is this not the Yukon way? Is this not the natural next step in the development of our culture?

With all due respect to Sergeant Preston, White Fang and Yvon of the Yukon, we Yukoners should be telling our own stories.

And with apologies to our cancan dancers – as lovely and joyful as they are – this play is a true representation of Yukon excesses played for the enjoyment of audiences.

Good theatre can thrive in the Yukon (thank you Nakai and Guild) and there is a steady stream of trained actors (thanks to MAD and Moving Parts Theatre) so a production like Timber Rabbits can, and should, do well.

I’ve heard a few people say that since it took Moving Parts Theatre five years to register in the minds of theatre lovers, it will likely not bode well for the good people behind Timber Rabbits.

What a shame that would be.

If we cannot support a true Yukon production, why would the world allow us to project ourselves artistically?

We will just have to put up with others portraying stereotypes of crazy men, living alone in cabins, creating trouble for ourselves.

Well, actually, that is what Timber Rabbits is about … but at least it is OUR stereotype presented by OUR people.

Timber Rabbits is the next logical step in the development of one component of a proud society. It is the next step that we must all take.

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