- Written by: Reneltta Arluk, Rawdna Carita Eira, Alon Nashman
- Directed by: Reneltta Arluk and Alon Nashman
- Music by: Carmen Braden
Reneltta Arluk and Alon Nashman have been following the threads of Indigenous stories which feature the Aurora Borealis, or KIURYAQ in Reneltta’s Inuvialuktun language. Our journey began with Theaturtle’s production of The Snow Queen, Hans Christian Andersen’s tale of a mythical North ruled by a malevolent spirit of swirling ice and snow, who disappears into the night sky to become the Northern Lights. That production led to a question: How does The Snow Queen relate to stories of people who actually live in the North? The stories we discovered present a different perspective, both more frightening and more playful, than Andersen’s fairytale. Stories for young people from the circumpolar North, from Sámi, Inuit and Northern Cree traditions, tend to deal in “safe fear.” They are truly scary, but in ways which protect youth from danger and prepare them for challenges. If they listen and watch intently, children learn to respect the power of the natural world and learn how to think and breathe in order to survive. Through our engagement with the Northern Lights in the dark winter sky, we are drawn to ask: What is the darkness children are feeling today? Is it Climate Change? Is it the creeping pandemic? Is it social isolation? Is it spiritual survival? Emerging from these questions is a new digital performance piece, an immersive 360° experience, which features stories, music and images inspired by the Northern Lights, a film which will someday envelope a live performance of these stories in outdoor snow amphitheatres.
Reneltta Arluk, Creator/Director
Reneltta is an Inuvialuit, Dene and Cree mom from the Northwest Territories. She is founder of Akpik Theatre, a northern focussed professional Indigenous Theatre company. Raised by her grandparents on the trap-line until school age, this nomadic environment gave Reneltta the skills to become the multi-disciplined artist she is now. For nearly two decades, Reneltta has taken part in or initiated the creation of Indigenous Theatre across Canada and overseas. Under Akpik Theatre, Reneltta has written, produced, and performed various works creating space for Indigenous led voice. Current works include Pawâkan Macbeth, a Plains Cree takeover of Macbeth written by Arluk on Treaty 6 territory. Pawâkan Macbeth was inspired by working with youth and elders on the Frog Lake reserve. Reneltta is the first Inuk and first Indigenous woman to graduate of the University of Alberta’s BFA Acting program and Reneltta is the first Inuk and first Indigenous woman to direct at The Stratford Festival. There she was awarded the Tyrone Guthrie – Derek F. Mitchell Artistic Director’s Award for her direction of the The Breathing Hole. In 2020, she co-directed Messiah/Complex with Against the Grain Theatre, a distinctive interpretation of Handel’s Messiah with soloist from every region of Canada, including many Indigenous performers singing in their own languages. Reneltta is Director of Indigenous Arts at BANFF Centre for Arts and Creativity.
Carmen Braden, Composer
Carmen Braden is a versatile, genre-jumping musician from the Canadian sub-Arctic. Winner of the 2019 and 2020 Western Canadian Music Award for Classical Composer of the Year, Carmen is a composer/performer based in her hometown of Yellowknife, Northwest Territories. Hailed as “a talented, bold musician” (Up Here Magazine), Carmen is a life-long Northerner whose music has been described as “drop-dead gorgeous” (Ottawa Citizen). Carmen’s second studio album Songs of the Invisible Summer Stars (2019) was nominated for an East Coast Music Award for Classical Album of the Year. Her debut studio album Ravens was released in 2017 – both albums are on the Centrediscs label.
Rawdna Carita Eira, Creator/Writer
Rawdna Carita Eira is a Sami Norwegian writer and playwright, born in Elverum and raised in Brønnøysund. She writes in Norwegian and Northern Sami. As a playwright, Eira debuted with the monologue Elle muitalus / Elens historie in 2003, where she herself played the lead role, and has since written several plays for the Sami National Theater Beaivváš . In 2012, her play Guohcanuori šuvva / Sangen fra Rotsundet , was staged at Beaivváš Theater. The play was nominated for the Ibsen Prize. Eira now lives in Guovdageaidnu / Kautokeino and works as a director at Beaivváš Sami National Theater. Eira is also a lyricist and vocalist in the band Circus Polaria with musicians Roger Ludvigsen and Kjetil Dalland. Eira has written the text in the Sami part of the opera Two Odysseys: Pimooteewin / Gállabártnit. In 2020, the opera was nominated for a Dora Mavor Moore Award for “Outstanding Opera Production” and was awarded the prize for “Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble”.