Pivot offers death, dancing and ‘speed friending’

There were times last year when Selene Vakharia felt like she was talking about death wherever she went. Some of it was her own doing.

There were times last year when Selene Vakharia felt like she was talking about death wherever she went.

Some of it was her own doing. She and fellow artist Chelsea Jeffery had been asking people for their stories about death, dying and the afterlife as part of a new theatre project.

Other conversations came about more organically. Sitting in a coffee shop, a friend would mention they were feeling shaken up after a car wreck that could have ended tragically.

“At one point I was like, here I am talking about death again,” Vakharia said.

Conversations about death that she thought would be uncomfortable ended up being much less so.

“I thought it would be more of a taboo, weird, thing for people to talk about but so many people really wanted to talk about it,” she said.

“(They) are really interested in it and are interested in having that conversation.”

The recorded conversations Vakharia and Jeffery collected form the central piece of their new show Public Secret which is part of this month’s Pivot Theatre Festival. The festival runs Jan. 23-28 and tickets went on sale this week.

Rather than being a show where the audience sits still and watches, Vakharia compares her piece to a Choose Your Own Adventure novel. Up to 20 audience members will spend an hour and a half exploring three heritage buildings in Shipyards Park — the Pioneer Hotel, the Chambers House and the Jenni House.

Inside, they’ll be able to interact with installations while hearing recordings of people talking about death, dying, coming to terms with your mortality, and the afterlife.

The show is about more than standing still and listening. Audience members will be able to interact with what they find inside.

The Jenni House, for example, has been transformed into a Victorian apothecary, Vakharia said.

“On the collection of shelves there are difference stations where you can listen to different people’s conversations … in their own voice,” she said.

Light boxes and projectors go with some of the stories.

“That brings the story that you’re listening to, the conversation you’re listening to, to life a bit.”

Actors have also been brought in to interact with the audience.

Each night different performers will talk about topics ranging from their own experience with death, to tarot cards, to using hallucinogens to help people come to terms with mortality near the end of their life.

Audience members can choose to listen to what the actor has to say or engage them in a conversation, Vakharia said, whatever makes them comfortable.

The hope is that people walk away from the night feeling more open to talking about death, she said.

“Coming out of it having some sort of conversation started around death and dying, to whatever extent that is.”

Public Secret will take place five times throughout the festival. Shows are scheduled for 6:15 and 8:15 p.m. on Jan. 23 and 25. A 9:30 p.m. show is happening on the 27th.

Along with Public Secret, much of what’s being performed at this year’s Pivot festival is about relationships and connection, said producer Katherine McCallum.

“It’s really about a celebration of life, a celebration of existence and family and culture.”

On Jan. 21, ahead of the official kickoff of the festival, is the Awkward Family Holiday Stories Pub Crawl.

At each of four downtown pubs participants can have a drink while listening to speakers share holiday stories involving their family.

“People will be telling really true, honest to goodness, super awkward family moments,” McCallum said.

On Jan. 27 is Stranger Connections.

While the idea of going out for an hour to have quick conversations with as many people as possible might sound like speed dating, but McCallum insists this Pivot event is more like “speed friending.”

“We didn’t want it to be a singles event because then it’s not involving the entire community,” she said.

Participants will have a limited amount of time to discuss specific questions that McCallum said are designed to create “instant icebreakers.”

She wouldn’t go into specifics about what the questions will be, but says they’re designed to go beyond the generic “where are you from and what do you do for a living” questions that begin many conversations.

“What it’s really about it disconnecting from screens, disconnecting from our virtual world to actually connect and reconnect with human beings.”

Choreographer and dancer Santee Smith is preforming her show NeoIndigenA at the Yukon Arts Centre on Jan. 27 and 28.

It’s described as a fusion of Indigenous and contemporary dance to the music of Tanya Tagaq and Cris Derksen.

Real-life mother and son, Asha and Ravi Jain, will be on stage in A Brimful of Asha at the Old Fire Hall from Jan. 26-28.

The play is a described as a “true story of generational and cultural clash, capturing a quintessential Canadian experience.”

Whitehorse playwright Brandon Wicke will be reading a play on Jan. 28 at the Whitehorse Public Library.

On Jan. 24 the Woodcutter’s Blanket is hosting a chance for local writers and storytellers to share their work.

The festival’s full schedule and a list of times and ticket prices is online at www.pivotfestival.com.

Contact Ashley Joannou at ashleyj@yukon-news.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

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 conducting a test with it on Nov. 24. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
An inside look at the COVID-19 drive-thru testing centre

As the active COVID-19 case count grew last week, so too did… Continue reading

Conservation officers search for a black bear in the Riverdale area in Whitehorse on Sept. 17. The Department of Environment intends to purchase 20 semi-automatic AR-10 rifles, despite the inclusion of the weapons in a recently released ban introduced by the federal government, for peace officers, such as conservation officers. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Environment Minister defends purchase of AR-10 rifles for conservation officers

The federal list of banned firearms includes an exception for peace officers

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: The K-shaped economic recovery and what Yukoners can do about it

It looks like COVID-19 will play the role of Grinch this holiday… Continue reading

Jodie Gibson has been named the 2020 Prospector of the Year by the Yukon Prospectors Association. (Submitted)
Jodie Gibson named 2020 Prospector of the Year

Annual award handed out by the Yukon Prospector’s Association

A number 55 is lit in honour of Travis Adams, who died earlier this year, at the Winter Wonderland Walk at Meadow Lakes Golf Club in Whitehorse on Nov. 24. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
A new take on holiday traditions

Winter Wonderland Walk, virtual Stories with Santa all part of 2020 festive events in Whitehorse

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

Colin McDowell, the director of land management for the Yukon government, pulls lottery tickets at random during a Whistle Bend property lottery in Whitehorse on Sept. 9, 2019. A large amount of lots are becoming available via lottery in Whistle Bend as the neighbourhood enters phase five of development. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Lottery for more than 250 new Whistle Bend lots planned for January 2021

Eight commercial lots are being tendered in additional to residential plots

The Government of Yukon Main Administration Building in Whitehorse on Aug. 21. The Canada Border Services Agency announced Nov. 26 that they have laid charges against six people, including one Government of Yukon employee, connected to immigration fraud that involved forged Yukon government documents. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Charges laid in immigration fraud scheme, warrant out for former Yukon government employee

Permanent residency applications were submitted with fake Yukon government documents

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

Karen Wenkebach has been appointed as a judge for the Yukon Supreme Court. (Yukon News file)
New justice appointed

Karen Wenckebach has been appointed as a judge for the Supreme Court… Continue reading

Catherine Constable, the city’s manager of legislative services, speaks at a council and senior management (CASM) meeting about CASM policy in Whitehorse on June 13, 2019. Constable highlighted research showing many municipalities require a lengthy notice period before a delegate can be added to the agenda of a council meeting. Under the current Whitehorse procedures bylaw, residents wanting to register as delegates are asked to do so by 11 a.m. on the Friday ahead of the council meeting. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Changes continue to be contemplated for procedures bylaw

Registration deadline may be altered for delegates

Cody Pederson of the CA Storm walks around LJ’s Sabres player Clay Plume during the ‘A’ division final of the 2019 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament. The 2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament, scheduled for March 25 to 28 in Whitehorse next year, was officially cancelled on Nov. 24 in a press release from organizers. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News file)
2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament cancelled

The 2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament, scheduled for March 25 to 28… Continue reading

Lev Dolgachov/123rf
The Yukon’s Information and Privacy Commissioner stressed the need to safeguard personal information while shopping this holiday season in a press release on Nov. 24.
Information and Privacy Commissioner issues reminder about shopping

The Yukon’s Information and Privacy Commissioner Diane McLeod-McKay stressed the need to… Continue reading

Most Read