Arviat teens embrace theatre

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Sometimes art imitates life and sometimes it’s the other way around.
But regardless of which is the recipient of the sincerest form of flattery, there are always lessons to be learned and emotions to be explored when it comes to the art of drama.
Longtime members of the Arviat Drama Club at John Arnalukjuak High School – Russell Suluk, Justin Suluk, Edith Issakiark and Lydia Kaviok – all say drama has affected them in one or more areas, sometimes on the stage and sometimes away.

Lydia Kaviok in her role as Paris chats with  Juliet (Cheryl Nibgoarsi) in the Arviat Drama Club production of Romeo and Juliet in June of 2017. Photo courtesy Gord Billard
Lydia Kaviok in her role as Paris chats with Juliet (Cheryl Nibgoarsi) in the Arviat Drama Club production of Romeo and Juliet in June of 2017.
Photo courtesy Gord Billard

Russell, 16, can honestly say he’s been involved in theatre all his life, having actually been in the cast of an Arviat Easter play as a baby.
Russell said being involved in drama has helped him learn and appreciate new words and it has helped him in using his own language of Inuktitut.
He said it has also helped his self-confidence and communication skills.
“My time in drama has definitely helped me in communicating with my friends and family,” said Russell.
“It also helped me when I had to speak in public, especially when I was down south.
“My acting has also helped me get more in touch with my own feelings and being in the drama club helped me feel better about things in general.
“And it helped a little bit with my everyday confidence.”
Issakiark, 16, said she has a good imagination and her time in the theatre helped fuel that imagination more than she expected.
She said her role as Sedna (Goddess of the Sea) in the play, Inuk and the Sun, pushed her to use her imagination while adapting her voice to, basically, two different characters.
“I had to use my voice in the play to portray that of the strongest woman and then later, when Sedna changes her appearance, I had to change it again to that of a beautiful lady,” said Issakiark.
“I found projecting myself to be a very strong woman on stage to be fun, but really challenging.
“And being cast in that role for Inuk and the Sun was actually the first time I had ever heard that story about Sedna, so it was also something new about my culture I learned.
“I was a little shy before the theatre, but drama has helped me to be confident all the time and not be afraid of speaking up when I feel I should say something.
“Drama has given me the confidence to just be myself,” said Issakiark.
Justin, 19, said the play Night gave him a better understanding of a family struggling with alcoholism.
He said it also taught him changing one’s personality sounds a lot easier to do than it actually is.
“I was pretty young at the time and I was playing the role of a father who was an alcoholic,” said Justin.
“That play was really interesting to me because I had to express myself a lot more and the character I was playing was a really violent guy, which I found very difficult at first.
“It gave me more insight about what life can be like in some families affected by alcoholism and I’m a pretty nice guy, so I found it very hard acting like that.
“I also had to act like I lost a wife in a Ski-Doo accident and it really helped my confidence to be able to portray emotions that strong.”
Justin said many plays give you glimpses of other situations that the world has to offer.
He said his very first role in Floating On A Don’t Care Cloud gave him more of an insight into how the world is working in regards to so many teenagers smoking weed now, which he describes as a serious problem.
“There are a lot of things happening in the world right now and being involved with drama can make you more receptive to it all.
“A lot of what was happening in the play was also happening in my town and we were using the play to try and give people more awareness of it all.
“Both plays – Floating on a Don’t Care Cloud and Night – help give you a better understanding of some of the issues being faced in the North right now.
“Night and when I played the Grinch, also showed me just how hard it can be to change your personality or behaviour. Just because you want to, doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy.”
Kaviok, 16, said her favourite character to play was Paris in Romeo and Juliet.
She said it was fun to play the role of a man.
“It was very challenging for me to portray a man,” said Kaviok.
“I had to adjust my voice to try and sound like a man and it wasn’t that easy.
“I also learned how to use a sword and have a sword fight in that play.
“That role has helped me be more expressive and, overall, I’m more comfortable just being me now than I ever was before I started acting.”

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