Multisensory play brings the sounds, smells and stories of Nunavik to the South


Olivia Ikey Duncan and Niap say their multisensory play is nothing like folks in the South have skilled earlier than.

It’s set in Nunavik and the principal character is the radio.

Through their onstage performances, Niap (who goes by one identify solely) and Ikey Duncan share the tradition of the North in a play titled Aalaapi — an Inuktitut phrase which means be silent, so you possibly can hear one thing stunning.

The Inuktitut play has English and French subtitles and was carried out in Sherbrooke and at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa final month.

Come Nov. 11, will probably be in Montreal at the Théatre Rouge du Conservatoire D’Art Dramatique to carry out in entrance of a world viewers at the CINARS competition, one of the premier performing arts conferences in the world. Tickets are not obtainable for that staging.

Highlighting the position of radio and neighborhood

Niap pictured in Aalaapi in February 2019. (Anne-Marie Baribeau)

Aalaapi first began out as a podcast of younger Inuit girls speaking about their day by day lives, hopes and desires.

Produced by Marie-Laurence Rancourt, it was then changed into a reside efficiency, directed by Laurence Dauphinais, to showcase the girls’s experiences and the central position of radio.

The play is unconventional, says Niap, because it engages the viewers’s sense of odor, in addition to the ordinary sight and sound.

“I make my very well-known bannock,” stated Niap, a multidisciplinary artist.

“There’s a sure level in the play the place it is utterly darkish and you do not see something … Theatre is at all times in motion and you see every thing that is occurring and you [are] at all times watching. Whereas this play may be very, very contemplative. We carry the tempo very gradual,” stated Niap.

WATCH | You can watch the trailer of Aalaapi right here:

Through the radio, the stories and messages of the North are shared all through the efficiency. It illustrates its central position in communities, stated Ikey Duncan.

“It’s a stage up from Facebook nonetheless,” stated Ikey Duncan. “It’s on all the time… If I would like [Niap] to name me or go decide up my daughter at daycare, I’m going to name the radio and say, ‘[Niap], you gotta go decide up my daughter.’ And they’re going to announce it and she’s going to probably be listening,” stated Ikey Duncan with amusing.

Niap says there’s a playfulness with the radio again residence that encourages neighborhood. At Christmas time folks name in to want one another a cheerful vacation and play video games on air — one thing significantly necessary for these who haven’t got entry to Wi-Fi.

“My mom would not have Wi-Fi … So that is robust. The radio is the principal line of communication,” stated Niap.

Ikey Duncan says this mission brings that sense of the neighborhood in Nunavik to folks residing in the South.

Aalaapi is bringing the tempo of residence, the sounds of residence again to the South … it is to have the viewers calm down for an hour and a half and be introduced to the Arctic,” stated Ikey Duncan.

A projection is cast upon a structure in the shape of the house. On the top, a sentence reads "Tusautik... it's the radio, the place where we hear things."
Niap and Ikey Duncan say the radio is at all times on in Nunavik. People name in to discuss to household and even play video games on air. (Anne-Marie Baribeau)

Aalaapi seems like ‘residence’

Images are projected upon a structure shaped in the outline of a house.
Images of the set design for Aalaapi. Ikey Duncan says the majority of attendees spoke English or French. (Submitted by Olivia Ikey Duncan)

Ikey Duncan first received concerned in the play in October 2022 after watching a efficiency in 2019 when she was a pupil.

“It felt like residence,” stated Ikey Duncan. She says she had labored with Niap on spoken phrase items earlier than becoming a member of the solid.

“I’m new to this … I’m not an actress in any respect. But it is residence, that is the factor. And we’re not appearing like Romeo and Juliet or we’re not appearing one thing that’s made up. We’re performing as if it is actual life.”

She says the play, though scripted, is conversational and informal — a efficiency in the end targeted on “two girls, listening to the radio of their cabin, making bannock.”

The stage is about up to seem like the facade of a home. Images of maps, ancestors and cultural actions are projected onto the home, taking part in in the house round the home windows. 

“The solely motion that you just see on stage is behind the window. So you are sort of like a voyeur wanting via this window of this lady’s home,” stated Niap.

LISTEN | Niap and Olivia Ikey Duncan discuss Aalaapi on Quebec AM:

Two performers from Nunavik discuss a multi sensory play referred to as Aalaapi which not too long ago made its debut at the Ottawa National Arts Centre.

Changing the narrative on Nunavik

Niap says this play encourages audiences to view Nunavik via a special lens by figuring out points in the North and their efforts to guarantee ” future.”

Niap says this message begins even earlier than the actors stroll on stage as the viewers shuffles to their seats, speaking loudly amongst themselves.

“They’re most likely speaking about what they are going to do that night, tomorrow or this week or, speaking to their pals simply ready for the present to begin and you hear on the radio, it is taking part in already,” says Niap.

In Inuktitut, an announcement rings over the crowd: “We want everyone to know that the water, is just not one thing that you have to be consuming proper now … Boil it for no less than one minute. And in case you are pregnant, please chorus from consuming the water and giving it to your younger infants.”

The kicker, stated Niap, is that nobody is listening. She says it illustrates how folks from the South are sometimes “not conscious of the struggles.”

A woman walks in front of a structure in the shape of a house. An image is projected over the structure and two windows are cut out in the centre, where a woman sits with the blinds drawn.
Ikey Duncan notes on the final day of the present in Ottawa, a bunch of folks with lowered eyesight got here to take pleasure in the play. Ikey Duncan says it was ‘stunning’ to witness how they may expertise the play. (Anne-Marie Baribeau)

“It sort of goes to present that disconnect that exists between the South and the North, and that is what we’re making an attempt to do … carry consciousness to who we’re as a folks right this moment in a contemporary society,” stated Niap.

“I believe what folks ought to notice is that we’re a struggling folks, however we do have hopes and we do attempt our greatest to have future.”


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