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Theatrical petri dish: growing talent with unscientific experiments

Nakai Theatre’s Pivot Festival caused a wave of dialogue about art — definitions, shock value, government funding — because of the…

Nakai Theatre’s Pivot Festival caused a wave of dialogue about art — definitions, shock value, government funding — because of the challenging performance art it showcased.

Boot licking, misinformed Civil War lectures addressed to dead chickens backed by a Jackie Chan movie, a lounge singer with cerebral palsy — unconventional performance art for Whitehorse that inspired debate.

Hopefully, it also inspired local artists to push their own creative boundaries, said Nakai’s artistic director David Skelton.

The theatre’s Homegrown Festival —  Live Experiments — showcases local plays, performance art and multimedia productions next week.

Some material from new and established creators will be rough and raw, but it will all be fresh and genuine, said Skelton in an recent interview.

And some pieces will put hard questions to the audience, just as this winter’s Pivot Festival did.

“I used the Pivot Festival to show creators here a different way of doing things,” said Skelton. “Hopefully, what people saw there will inspire them to do different things.”

Running from May 30 to 24 at the Guild Hall, Homegrown is entering its third year.

The event is held every two years, alternating with the 24-hour playwriting contest.

The two-year lag time allows local artists to develop new work, said Skelton.

“There aren’t a lot of artists to draw from for an event like this,” he said.

With the 24-hour contest, a cycle is started in which artists can develop or improve scripts and put them into Homegrown.

“If the material is worthwhile, then we look at for possible production with Nakai,” said Skelton.

Skelton produced the first Homegrown in 2004 — he missed the 2006 festival — but now that he’s artistic director, there’s a vision he’s established for performances.

“Beyond the ‘live experiment,’ I want Homegrown to be an invitation to put something on stage,” he said.

Material that explores the audience-performer relationship fits well with the Homegrown esthetic.

This year has seen an increase in pieces outside the traditional monologue, fourth wall performance, said Skelton.

Joseph Tisiga produced the show Un(en)titled — Coca Cola Creation Story which explores traditional creation stories with a multimedia collage.

The show describes “the plight of Indigenous aliens en route to the sacred safe haven of the museum of contemporary post-consumer stillbirths.”

Owen Williams is in a one-night-only performance on Saturday and he literally phones it in.

He’s calling from Europe as part of his show — “a simple project with potatoes.”

Local playwright Celia McBride, author of So Many Doors, also has a one-night-only performance on Tuesday. She will be acting alongside newcomer Chris Oke.

Anatomy of a Broken Love Affair is the “unscientific exploration of a lust story.”

Musicians Dave Haddock and Kim Beggs make an appearance, while the First People Players have a multimedia song, drum and dance show.

Skelton points to Tales From the Props Shed by Brian Fidler and Jordy Walker as an interesting piece.

It takes the audience out of the theatre and into the props shed for a puppetry show with full frontal puppet nudity.

Homegrown takes a unique approach to artist payment. There’s a flat admission rate at the door but the audience can “clap with their wallet.”

At each show a jar will be passed around and people can pay the artist directly for their work — or not.

“If you think the show is fabulous, drop in a $20 bill and encourage the artist,” said Skelton.

“If it stinks, drop in a penny, or a bottle cap or bus token.”

More performance descriptions and show times can be found at

Tickets for Tuesday and Wednesday nights are $5, while Thursday to Saturday performances cost $8.

A festival pass costs $20. All can picked up at Arts Underground, Well-Read Books or at the door.

Nightly shows start at