Kiviuq Returns: An Inuit Epic
Created by the Qaggiq Collective, Nunavut
Directed by Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory
Costumes designed by Loose Arreak
Sound designer, Chris Coleman
Projection designer and technical director, Jamie Griffiths
Featuring: Keenan Carpenter, Vinnie Karetak, Avery Keenainak, Charlotte Qamaniq, Christine Tootoo, Natar Ungalaq
At the Tarragon Theatre in Toronto
This folktale, based on the the legendary archetype Inuit hunter-gatherer, Kiviuq, was collectively created from the shared memory of Inuit elders Miriam Aglukkaq, Susan Avingaq, Madeline Ivalu and Qaunaq Mikigak. It is performed in the Inuktitut language without surtitles although there is ample explanation of the storyline provided in the play’s program.
In experiencing this performance, I found it best to heed the opening lines of the narrator with regard to language: “Let it wash over you. Look for the intent, listen for the emotion, hear the cracks of smiles, the lines of sorrow.” A literal interpretation is really not needed at all. Listen to the play and read the program notes when you get home.
It is not often that Canadian audiences have an opportunity to experience the culture and folkways of the Inuit people in performance. The music, poetry and song, including some extraordinary throat singing, brings this story to life in unique and interesting ways. The costumes (outer wear especially) designed by Loose Arreak are to die for and the envy of many audience members viewing the show on a cold and snowy night in January.
In the end, the play concludes as it began, with a meditative invocation of the natural world and a prayer to the spirit of the ancestors who came before and who will one day be joined by us all.