The Blues for Burning

As a theatre designer, Stéphanie Lambert is used to creating things that aren’t meant to last.

But not all of them are destined to go up in flames.

That’s what will happen this weekend when her four-faced effigy of winter is sacrificed on a ceremonial bonfire at Robert Service Park.

Lambert, a 2008 graduate in theatre design from Montréal’s Concordia University, arrived in the Yukon last summer during a road trip to connect with other theatre people across the country.

With only limited experience in puppet-making, she took on the task of creating puppets for December’s Winterval parade, organized by Yukon Educational Theatre (YET).

That, in turn, led to the bigger challenge of designing the effigy for YET’s 13th annual celebration of the spring equinox, Burning Away the Winter Blues.

“It needed to be light, and I wanted it to be four faces,” she explains. “I thought the winter blues was a plural term, so I wanted to have different kinds of expressions for the blues.”

The result is a super-sized construction of chicken wire, rice paper and raffia, with skeletal hands like the tines of a bamboo rake and a bright swatch of blue fabric hinting at the image’s body.

Each of the four blue-veined faces represents a different aspect of how people experience the “blues” of winter, Lambert explains.

“There’s one face with a tear, so it’s more sadness. Then there’s one that might be more anger, where the fabric is strained in the front,” she says.

“The other one where the mouth is open can be like wanting to shout, wanting the winter to be over.”

The eyes of the fourth face protrude on alien-like stalks, to represent what the artist calls “the craziness that comes with the darkness” of winter.

“All those things, you want to burn them away and get to the spring and light.”

Burning Away the Winter Blues begins Saturday, March 19 at 8:45 pm with a torchlight and drum-beating parade from the S.S. Klondike to Robert Service Campground.

A shuttlebus service will run from the campground parking lot to the sternwheeler from 8:15 to 8:45.

As in previous years, participants are encouraged to contribute written expressions of the winter blues to the bonfire.

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