Gwaandak Theatre

Dreary and Izzy at the Guild

This May, Whitehorse’s Guild Hall is presenting Dreary and Izzy, a play by Tara Beagan which centres on a pair of sisters who have lost their parents in a car accident.

The shows must go on!

Yukon theatre companies are finding creative ways to present work. Adapting shows and developing unique formats to fit with our new reality.

Awaken to spring with Gwandaak Theatre

With the arrival of spring, Gwaandak Theatre introduced the Awaken Festival for the first time ever! Gwaandak Theatre is the only Indigenous-centered theatre company in the Yukon, and has been empowering Indigenous and Northern voices since 2000.

A play on words

In January 2019, the United Nations (UN) declared 2019 to be the International Year of Indigenous Languages. This was meant to increase awareness and spur actions to promote and protect Indigenous languages around the world. According to the UN, an estimated 6,700 (or 40 per cent) of the world’s languages are in danger of disappearing. …

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Homesick in Alberta

I was up in the Yukon last week working with Gwaandak Theatre on a series of radio plays based on legends from Old Crow. It was great to see all my Vuntut Gwich’in relatives and meet the famed Paul Kennedy from the CBC radio program, Ideas. He looks nothing like he sounds on radio. Is that …

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David Geary says to “be hungry for other people’s stories”

David Geary is no stranger to the Yukon. He was here to work with Gwaandak Theatre a year ago last February. Now he’s looking forward to seeing what Whitehorse is like when it’s warmer. Geary is originally from New Zealand, where he has mixed roots which he describes as “Maori from the Taranaki iwi tribe, …

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What would you do?

Wren Brian was just 10 years old when the first X-Men movie came out in 2000. The film’s opening scene, set in the infamous Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland, triggered a fascination with the Nazi Holocaust that remains with her today. Until a single one-hour history lesson in Grade 12, however, the Whitehorse-born playwright had …

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Can wisdom save the world?

The post-apocalyptic, not-so-distant-future world of The Unplugging, an award-winning play by Canadian playwright Yvette Nolan, is the latest production on offer from the Yukon-based Gwaandak Theatre.

In the spirit of re-emergence

The Yukon Playwrights Conference will feature information sessions presented by guest playwrights from outside of the territory and Yukon playwrights. They include, from top left Jacob Zimmer, Donna-Michelle St. Bernard, Kevin Loring, Monique Renaud, Wren Brian, Roy Ness, Patti Flather, Doug Rutherford, Brian Fidler, Reneltta Arluk, Leonard Linklater and Kevin Kennedy. PHOTO: courtesy of the …

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Hidden Memories Revealed at Fringe Festival

Five years ago Hidden Memories started as a one-act play Lillian Nakamura Maguire drafted to improve her dialogue skills for a creative writing class. Now the full-length version will be featured in the Vancouver Fringe Festival’s Advance Theatre: New Works by Diverse Women on September 13. “It’s the first time Hidden Memories will be read …

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From stage to page

When Yukon playwright Patti Flather launched the book of her highly acclaimed play, Paradise, on a warm June evening at Baked Café in Whitehorse, Mac’s Fireweed Books sold out all their copies. “The thing about a play, is after it’s produced it’s done. A book lasts,” says Flather. Flather is a co-founder of Gwaandak Theatre, …

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Celebrate National Tlingit Day with a Fun Packed Weekend in Teslin

The biannual Haa Ḵusteeyí Celebration and community gathering in Teslin this month presents a unique opportunity for Yukoners of all backgrounds to connect with the Tlingit community. “Everyone is welcome. We want everybody here. We want to share and showcase our culture to the world,” says Melaina Sheldon, community arts and events coordinator at the …

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Stories Come to Life

Falen Johnson doesn’t hold back when it comes to Gwaandak Theatre. “I love Gwaandak,” the Six Nations writer says straight out. “It’s a place where you know you’re immediately welcomed as an Indigenous playwright.” Johnson’s play Two Indians is one of three plays featured in this year’s Indigenous Summer Play Readings by Gwaandak Theatre. The …

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Telling Stories Through Dance

“What would I say my style is? It depends on what project I’m working on… I liked to say ‘contemporary aboriginal dancer’ for a long time, but that’s pretty broad – there are so many kinds of aboriginal dance and it’s all different… If you were writing a poem, you’d use whatever words and meters …

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She’s Been Bitten

It was the promise of bannock that first lured Melaina Sheldon into the orbit of Gwaandak Theatre in 2010. The show’s limited budget also allowed Sheldon to use some of the design skills she had developed in a one-year diploma course in fashion design in Vancouver. “I’m a Salvation Army thrift store shopper, for sure, …

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Follow Our Trails

Audience members with program “maps” in hand will be guided through the Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre for a unique performance adventure from Gwaandak Theatre, showcasing the spectacular riverfront and Yukon stories about who we are and where we come from. Gwaandak Theatre in association with the Yukon Arts Centre and Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre (KDCC) …

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Exploring Justice with Gwaandak Theatre

Gwaandak Theatre is known for producing high quality, thought provoking and original productions. A large portion of its mandate is to help cultivate Aboriginal and Northern artists gain professional experience and exposure on stages close and far from home. Now celebrating their 15th year, Gwaandak continues to cultivate new theatre and artists with Its Exploring …

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Myth and Medium Focuses on Stories and Performance

This week shaped up to be a culturally ambitious one in Dawson City. The centerpiece of the week has been the Myth and Medium conference organized by the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in’s Heritage Department and focusing on the performing arts. It’s not too late to take in some of the culture. The week’s performance workshops continue on …

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Stories of the land

Museum On Nov. 19 Yukoners can grab a drink and a snack at the Yukon Transportation Museum and hunker down for a favourite Yukon pastime: telling stories of backwoods adventures. The event, called Tales of the Trails, will feature Yukon storytellers Sharon Shorty, Ruth Carroll and David Neufeld among others, as well as music by …

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For Patti Flather, Gwaandak is about building connections by sharing our stories

When Patti Flather left Vancouver for the Yukon, she had no thoughts of becoming a playwright, let alone co-founder and artistic director of a busy theatre company. “It was not at all part of life,” she says. “My parents were not theatre goers. I had one wonderful teacher in elementary school who did drama with …

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A Testament to the Disappearances of Aboriginal Women

International Women’s Day is Saturday, March 8, it’s a day to pause and consider women’s health, dreams, and safety — worldwide, and in Canada. It’s a perfect time to see The Hours that Remain, a play by Ontario Métis artist Keith Barker. The play explores the love, loss, and grief for families and communities surrounding …

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The Adäka Cultural Festival Aims to Include Everyone

The Adäka Cultural Festival will kick off for the third time in Whitehorse on Friday, June 21, which is also National Aboriginal Day. Adäka (pronounced Aw-daw-kah) means “coming into the light” in the Southern Tutchone language and each year this festival continues to expand, like the sun rising on a new day, spreading its light …

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Calling All Young Writers

The vibrant theatre community in Whitehorse is making room for some new, budding talent. After years of bringing innovative and imaginative works to local stages, Gwaandak Theatre presents youth with the chance to tell their own stories through the Uth Ink project. “There’s some youth who might have been in the [Music Arts and Drama] …

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Imagine Success …

Imagine that this is a story about you and a poem – 25 delicious lines about gathering pancake berries at Moosehide that you submitted to the 2009 Yukon Young Authors Contest. On the strength of your writing, Robert Service School sent you to the two-day Young Authors Conference at F.H. Collins starting April 30. Too …

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Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue

With both the Nakai and Moving Parts theatres scaling back on productions for a season of development, Eric Epstein sees the role of the Guild Society as all that more important. “We are certainly the ones to look at classic repertoire and contemporary repertoire,” says the Guild’s artistic director. “We just want to get the …

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A play without boundaries

After presenting Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, one of the most well-known plays of the post-modern era, the Guild Theatre follows with the world premiere of Yukon writer Patti Flather’s play, The Soul Menders. This play has no theatre history, no reputation, no guide and, for Chris McGregor, the director, it has no boundaries. And …

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The Trickster as Bingo Master

Can one Holy Grail of a Bingo Game in Toronto be the answer to the dreams of seven women living on a reserve? Tomson Highway’s play, The Rez Sisters, asks that question as it sends seven women on a journey to seek out the Bingo Game to beat all Bingo Games. Gwaandak Theatre reads the …

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Aboriginal plays featured in Gwaandak’s Summer Reading Series

Gwaandak Theatre is putting on a reading series this summer featuring three plays written by First Nations playwrights, borrowing the skills of some local First Nation actors — some who are brand new to the theatre stage. The whole idea makes Patti Flather and Leonard Linklater, co-founders of Gwaandak Theatre, excited and hopeful. “We wanted …

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Honest Talk Cafe

How can one person transform herself into many people? How can one location turn into several without changing a thing? Go and see Café Daughter and you’ll find out. Somehow, this one-woman show, based on a true story of an ethnically mixed young girl growing up in Saskatchewan, manages to pull it off. Dawson City had the …

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Conflicting Concepts of Justice

The discovery of long-buried human remains in Dawson City two years ago shone a public spotlight on a little-known chapter in Yukon history. The four bodies unearthed at the site of a former Northwest Mounted Police palisade turned out to be those of prisoners executed and secretly buried during the Klondike Gold Rush. Two of …

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Reconnecting Severed Bonds

Kenneth T. Williams had never heard of his distant cousin, Lillian Dyck, until 1999, when he was asked to suggest names of suitable Saskatchewan candidates for the National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation’s Lifetime Achievement award. He first approached another cousin, a well-known writer and aboriginal historian, who told him, “No, no, no. Don’t nominate me. I …

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