A chance meeting between two characters who lead very different lives — a busy Toronto anthropologist and a fiery 16-year-old Inuk girl — lies at the heart of a new play called Night.
The play, told in both English and Inuktitut, delves into the lives lived in an Arctic town. It examines the relationship between Daniella, a researcher from the big city, and Piuyuq, an Inuit girl with dreams that are bigger than her small community.
The story unfolds over 24 hours of darkness in Pond Inlet on the northern shore of Baffin Island.
Christopher Morris, the writer and director of Night, said the play is the result of collaboration between Toronto's Human Cargo theatre company and people from Pond Inlet and Akureyri, Iceland.
The play, which opens Thursday at the National Arts Centre English Theatre in Ottawa, was created during a series of workshops in northern communities that started in 2007, he said.
"We would improvise material, explore material," said Morris, who is originally from Markham, Ont. "These rehearsal processes are just like a mishmash of all kinds of stuff. From that, certain ideas come up."
Nunavut teen stars in play
Abbie Otoova, a 16-year-old from Pond Inlet, plays Piuyuq.
"I play the role model, kind of a role model to Nunavut teenagers, who [are] really affected by drugs and alcohol, " Otoova said.
In the play, Otoova’s teenage character is forced to deal with the suicide of her best friend — an experience Otoova has had to deal with in her own life.
"My niece [did] it in real life, and it’s kind of hard," she said. "It’s sort of hard for me, but I have to be sure to keep up what I’m doing."
The play is scheduled to tour the North after its run in Ottawa, and Otoova said she is a bit worried the bleak depiction of social problems might hit too close to home for some people.
"I’m kind of nervous about that, because it’s our real life," Otoova said. "Some people are going to hurt, I know … but it’s part of the play."
Night will open at the National Arts Centre English Theatre in Ottawa, but the cast will head North afterwards to perform shows in Nunavut, the Yukon and the Northwest Territories.