North

Tales of an Urban Indian takes Iqaluit audiences on a theatrical bus ride

A theatre group from Ontario is taking audiences in Iqaluit for a theatrical journey staged inside a bus.

20-seater bus provides 'an incredible level of intimacy that you can't get in a theatre,' says actor

Part of the power of the production comes from the fact the play takes place on a bus, says the director. (Sam Rose and Herbie Barnes/Talk Is Free Theatre)

A theatre group from Ontario is taking audiences in Iqaluit for a theatrical journey on a bus.

Talk Is Free Theatre, based on Barrie, Ont., opened its one-man-production of Tales of an Urban Indian in Iqaluit last night. The entire performance is staged on a school bus.

Written by Darrell Dennis, the play is a semi-autobiographical story of a young First Nations man's journey from a reservation to downtown Vancouver.

"He's just trying to figure out who he really is. It's being a stranger in his own land kind of feeling; he never fits in anywhere," says director Herbie Barnes.

Craig Lauzon, the actor performing the play, says "The story is so universal you could do this show anywhere there's Indigenous people."

He adds that although Inuit do not live on reservations the themes in the play will still resonate with people in Iqaluit.

Connection with characters

"I think they'll connect with the characters. Everybody knows these people, even though there's no reserves per se, it's still clashes of culture," says Lauzon.

Lauzon said for Inuit in Nunavut, that culture shock can come from moving from a hamlet to the city or from moving from the North to the south.

Lauzon, who will be performing this role for the first time, says he's excited to explore the production with an Inuit audience in Iqaluit.

He says telling Indigenous stories to Indigenous audiences is a passion.

"It's telling our story from an Indigenous perspective. This show has always been directed by, written by and starring an Indigenous performer, so all aspects of it are coming from an Indigenous point of view."

Written by Darrell Dennis, the play is a semi-autobiographical story of a young First Nations man’s journey from a reservation to downtown Vancouver. (Sam Rose and Herbie Barnes/Talk Is Free Theatre)

'Intimacy that you can't get in a theatre'

Part of the power of the production comes from the fact the play takes place on a bus, says Barnes.

The play was originally moved to a bus when the theatre in which it was to be staged in Ontario was under construction.

"The first day when we walked in there, we found a number of different little gifts that the bus gave us," says Barnes.

"You can't escape hearing the story, you have to be part of that story, you become enveloped inside of that story."

The bus being used for the performances in Iqaluit seats only 22 people.

"It's such an intimate story and to be that close to people, there is an incredible level of intimacy that you can't get in a theatre because you're sitting directly beside someone," says Barnes.

The play is being staged five times in Iqaluit until July 30 and tickets can be purchased online or at NorthMart.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sima Sahar Zerehi is a reporter with CBC North. She started her career in journalism with the ethnic press working for a Canadian-based Farsi language newspaper. Her CBC journey began as a regular commentator with CBC radio's Metro Morning. Since then she's worked with CBC in Montreal, Toronto and now Iqaluit.

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