The Cultch and DanceHouse
A Production of Artcirq (from Igloolik), The 7 Fingers (from Montreal) and Taqqut Productions (from Iqaluit)

Dates and Venue January 22 – 25, 2020 at 7pm; matinee at 2pm on Jan 25 | Vancouver Playhouse Theatre, 600 Hamilton St

Co-artistic Directors Guillaume Ittukssarjuat Saladin & Terence Uyarak (Artcirq), Patrick Leonard (The 7 Fingers) & Neil Christopher (Taqqut Productions Dramaturge Consultant Germaine Arnaktauyok

Reviewer Christian Steckler

Derived from the Inuktitut word, Unipkaaqtut, meaning “to tell stories,” UNIKKAAQTUAT is a wonderfully imaginative and adventurous expression of several traditional Inuit myths and legends. Bringing a modern artistic twist to the performance of traditional stories is a risky business. What would the ancestors think? What will the elders think? The directors and performers in this presentation succeed unreservedly in introducing traditional Inuit legends to the world, honouring their ancestral stories and delighting their elders.

Circus art, acrobatics, song and humour, are performed against a backdrop of powerful projected images of mythical explanations of the world of the Inuit. There is not much dialogue, in fact, only enough to lend a comprehensible thread to tie the various myths into a package. Songs and some dialogue are in Inuktitut, which has the potential to be confusing for the audience. But then, what new experience doesn’t include elements of, “What’s that?”

It is a testament to the careful thought and artistry of the creators and performers of this production that the language difference is of little consequence. The directors’ talents and Arnaktauyok’s illustrations allow us to enjoy, appreciate, and comprehend the stories being performed.

The performing artists - all of them - are to be commended and celebrated. Kudos to Alex Arnatsiaq, Charlie Gordon, Gisle Henriet, Marjorie Nantel, Charlotte Qamaniq, Joshua Qaumariaq, Guillaume Ittukssarjuat Saladin, Levy Tapatsiak, Christine Tootoo and Terence Urayak. The animal actions - rabbits, raven, bear and dogs, and narwhal - were remarkable. The high-energy gymnastics brilliantly communicated elements of the stories, and the suspended acrobatics on rope and silk were daring and expressive.

All in all, UNIKKAAQTUAT is a spellbinding, meaningful experience for anyone wishing to explore beyond the conventional scopes of theatrical production. Live a little! Take a step outside the familiar, and learn. Experience UNIKKAAQTUAT. You will be glad you did.

© 2020 Christian Steckler