Pivot fest brings up boot lickers and cancer survivors

Ulysses Castellanos is willing to lick your boots clean — with his tongue. It takes the danger out of shoe polishing, he says.

Ulysses Castellanos is willing to lick your boots clean — with his tongue.

It takes the danger out of shoe polishing, he says.

In his bio, the Toronto artist remembers the first time he saw a shoe-polish machine.

“I immediately fell in love,” he writes.

The machine was a giant metal box with a hole in the middle where people put their feet.

“I wondered, are they not afraid that the machine could malfunction?” writes Castellanos.

“What if it just tears off their feet?”

Castellanos’ tongue is a safer option.

The boot licker is coming to Whitehorse as part of Nakai’s inaugural Pivot Festival.

The annual comedy fest wasn’t doing so well, said Nakai’s artistic director David Skelton.

“And I’m, personally, not so interested in stand-up comedy and sketch.”

So, Skelton decided to create “an extreme theatre event” instead.

He booked in a bunch of quirky performers from across Canada and called it the Pivot Festival.

“With the comedy fest it was, “Here you go — this is funny,’” said Skelton.

“But with Pivot you ask, “Is this funny? Is this theatre?’”

Besides the shoe licker, Skelton booked a cancer survivor, a jazz singer with cerebral palsy and an aging drag-queen poet.

Booking bizarre acts has led to some unusual requests.

On Monday, Skelton was hunting for a bunch of chickens.

“They could be alive or dead,” he said.

“Will the venue allow in live chickens?” said producer Moira Sauer, with a grin.

The chickens are part of a silent kung-fu-film piece accompanied by Castellanos on piano.

The shows “step outside the confines of conventional theatre,” said Skelton.

“And people might be hesitant,” he said citing Bruce Horak’s, This is Cancer Live.

Horak, who is Cancer, begins the show by walking through the audience touching people.

“One in four,” he says with a laugh.

Horak pushes buttons — he refers to Terry Fox as the guy who put Thunder Bay on the map and takes a shot at survivors who turned their tales into books, Lance Armstrong included.

“We all hate and despise cancer, but we rarely get a chance to laugh at it,” said Sauer.

He’s a buffoon, added Skelton.

“But he’s also had cancer.”

It left Horak legally blind in one eye.

And he lost his father to the disease.

Skelton, who just learned his mother has cancer, is looking forward to Horak’s piece.

“My mother wishes she could see it too,” he said.

Skelton wants his audience members to have their “brains engaged.”

“The main goal is to be entertained and engaged,” he said.

Pivot should jostle theatrical expectations.

“CP Salon is an important part of what will characterize the festival,” said Skelton.

The audience will be expecting someone to be singing standards, like I’m So Lonesome, and Like a Rolling Stone, with piano accompaniment.

But the singer has cerebral palsy.

“He’s physically contorted and his voice is constricted,” said Skelton.

“So you have these expectations, then he starts to sing and it’s shocking.

“The expectations are completely shattered and you have to decide if what he is doing is actually moving.

“Does he have control, artistry, sensitivity and passion for the material … or is it just a bunch of noises that you don’t want anything to do with.”

 It might seem like screaming, said Skelton.

“But the more you listen, the more you get it. And you’re eventually moved — you see the struggle of this man.”

Every act in Pivot works to tear down the imaginary wall between actor and audience, said Skelton.

And the smaller venues will help, said Sauer.

The arts centre is out this year, and the Westmark venue is a smaller space than venues of past years.

“It’s more intimate,” she said.

Nakai for Kids, running in conjunction with Pivot, is bringing up one-man music spectacle Washboard Hank.

But it’s grown-ups who are excited.

There’s such a buzz about it, Skelton and Sauer are considering putting on a show for the adults as well.

Pivot runs January 23rd through 26th.

Nakai for Kids is on January 26th.

Tickets are available at Arts Underground and the Yukon Arts Centre box office.

For a full list of performers, bios and schedules visit www.nakaitheatre.com.

Just Posted

Willow Brewster, a paramedic helping in the COVID-19 drive-thru testing centre, holds a swab used for the COVID-19 test moments before using it on Nov. 24. The Yukon government is reopening the drive-thru option on June 18. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Drive-up COVID-19 testing opening June 18 in Whitehorse

The drive-up testing will be open from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. everyday and increase testing capacity by 33 spots

A draft plan has been released by the Dawson Regional Use Planning commission on June 15. Julien Gignac/Yukon News
Draft plan released by the Dawson Regional Land Use Planning Commission

Dawson Regional Land Use Commission releases draft plan, Government of Yukon withdraws additional lands from mineral staking in the planning region

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: Let them live in trailers

“I found Rome a city of bricks and left it a city… Continue reading

X
WYATT’S WORLD

Wyatt’s World for June 18, 2021.… Continue reading

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley. (Yukon News file)
Yukon logs nine new COVID-19 cases, 54 active cases

More CEMA enforcement officers have been recruited, officials say

Whitehorse City Hall (Yukon News file)
City news, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council at its June 14 meeting

Murray Arsenault sits in the drivers seat of his 1975 Bricklin SV1 in Whitehorse on June 16. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
Bringing the 1975 Bricklin north

Murray Arsenault remembers his dad’s Bricklin, while now driving his own

A presumptive COVID case was found at Seabridge Gold’s 3 Aces project. (file photo)
Presumptive COVID-19 case reported at mine in southeast Yukon

A rapid antigen rest found a presumptive COVID case on an incoming individual arriving at the 3Aces project

Jonathan Antoine/Cabin Radio
Flooding in Fort Simpson on May 8.
Fort Simpson asked for military help. Two people showed up.

FORT SIMPSON—Residents of a flooded Northwest Territories village expected a helping hand… Continue reading

A woman was rescued from the Pioneer Ridge Trail in Alaska on June 16. (Photo courtesy/AllTrails)
Alaska hiker chased off trail by bears flags down help

ANCHORAGE (AP)—An Alaska hiker who reported needing help following bear encounters on… Continue reading

Two participants cross the finish line at the City of Whitehorse Kids Triathlon on June 12 with Mayor Dan Curtis on hand to present medals. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
2021 Kids’ Triathlon draws 76 young athletes

Youth ages five to 14 swim, run and bike their way to finish line

NDP MP Mumilaaq Qaqqaq rises in the House of Commons, in Ottawa on May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
‘Unacceptable’ that Inuk MP felt unsafe in House of Commons, Miller says

OTTAWA—It’s a “sad reflection” on Canada that an Inuk MP feels she’s… Continue reading

Lily Witten performs her Canadian Nationals beam routine on June 14. John Tonin/Yukon News
Three Yukon gymnasts break 20-year Nationals absence

Bianca Berko-Malvasio, Maude Molgat and Lily Witten competed at the Canadian Nationals – the first time in 20 years the Yukon’s been represented at the meet

Most Read