Pivot festival plans diverse performances

The upcoming Pivot Theatre Festival offers a diverse collection of performers, including a Chilean Canadian, an Israeli Canadian, a French Canadian, a First Nation performer and a Filipina Canadian.

The upcoming Pivot Theatre Festival offers a diverse collection of performers, including a Chilean Canadian, an Israeli Canadian, a French Canadian, a First Nation performer and a Filipina Canadian.

But if you ask Nakai Theatre’s David Skelton to pick a favourite, things get difficult.

“It’s Sophie’s Choice,” he says, laughing.

As co-artistic director of Nakai Theatre, Skelton is understandably attached to each of the shows that will come to Whitehorse later this month.

The festival presented with the Yukon Arts Centre runs from January 23 to 26. Venues include the Yukon Arts Centre, the Old Fire Hall and a number of other businesses in the city.

Among the marquee shows this year is Huff. Written and performed by Cliff Cardinal, the hour-long show follows siblings as they work to cope with their mother’s suicide.

Reviews of the show have dubbed Cardinal an “energetic chameleon on stage, donning the guise of a wizened grandmother, an eager young boy unaware of his harsh circumstances, and even an anthropomorphic, psychotic skunk.”

For audiences, the experience of the show is an emotional one, Skelton said.

“It just captures the audiences and then wrings you right out,” he said.

Skelton describes audiences standing quietly in the lobby after Cardinal’s show just taking the time to absorb what they have experienced.

Also performing this year is Itai Erdal, in his intensely personal story How to Disappear Completely.

Erdal was working as a lighting designer, and had recently graduated from film school when he learned that his mother had been diagnosed with cancer.

He packed up and moved to Israel to be with her in her last days.

The show uses film and photos from that time, along with Erdal’s personal stories to tell the story of his mother and the story of their time together.

Carmen Aguirre won the 2012 Canada Reads competition for her novel Something Fierce: Memoirs of a Revolutionary Daughter. Her latest play, Blue Box, is part of Pivot’s schedule this year.

Pivot organizers describe Blue Box as a “funny, sexual and deeply political one-woman show.” It is an “intimate and sensual story of love, lust and revolution set in Chile, Los Angeles and Vancouver.

“Blue Box weaves together two stories: one from Carmen’s underground work in the 1980s Chilean resistance movement; the other of a passionate and complicated relationship with a charismatic Chicano actor – each exploring how to get what we want when no one wants us to get it.”

Other shows planned for the festival include Leave a Message (apres le bip) by Open Pit writers Aislinn Cornett and Genevieve Doyon, and a performance-reading of local artist Hazel Venzon’s latest play +1.

The Pivot Theatre Festival has been running in Whitehorse since 2009.

Skelton says the Whitehorse community is an appealing place for talented artists to come and display their skill.

“We are a small community, but we are a cosmopolitan community,” he said. “We’re isolated but we also have a desire to see everything there is to offer.”

He said encouraging artists to come north is not a challenge.

People who are new to the Whitehorse arts scene want to come and experience it, and people who have already been here want to come back, he said.

“We have such a huge arts community here and people are genuinely supportive of everything we have to offer.”

A full schedule for events and information on ticket sales can be found at: www.pivotfestival.com.

Contact Ashley Joannou at


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