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Whitehorse’s Pivot Festival returns to live stages

The 2022 festival runs from January 11 to 22
Bryan Fidler performs a puppet show in 2020. Fidler will be bringing a production called Death, Jesus and Friends to the Pivot Festival in 2022. (Erik Pinkerton/Submitted)

Plans for the 2022 Pivot Festival, set to run from Jan. 11 to 22, include a rich lineup of theatre, storytelling and comedy.

The annual festival, hosted by Nakai Theatre, has been held in Whitehorse for the past 14 years.

“The festival is an invitation to connect with people and theatre close to home and from around the world. We try every year to transcend assumptions about theatre by mixing inspirational productions, revisiting crowd favourites, and providing opportunities for the community to join in the creative fun,” organizers wrote about the upcoming festival.

“Pivot brings lightness and connection in the dark days of winter.”

The festival will kick off with a chance for participants to stretch their legs and hear some poetry. The pivot poetry crawl invites people to stomp through the snow along the river from Shipyards Park to the Old Fire Hall meeting poets along the way.

“The story crawl from previous years, which saw people packing into bars to listen to storytellers, doesn’t feel safe. So instead we’re braving the winter temperatures and taking the crawl to the riverfront, where poets will perform at different points along the route outdoors,” said festival associate producer Kaila Jefferd-Moore.

The Folk Lordz, Todd Houseman and Ben Gorodetsky, are among the acts booked for Whitehorse’s Pivot Festival in January 2022. (Submitted)
The Folk Lordz, Todd Houseman and Ben Gorodetsky, are among the acts booked for Whitehorse’s Pivot Festival in January 2022. (Submitted)

One of the festival’s evening shows, held on both Wednesdays of the festival, will be Ramshackle Theatre presenting Death, Jesus and Friends, a puppet show performed by Bryan Fidler.

Festival organizers describe the show as deeply silly and irreverent. Fidler has been creating original plays and cardboard puppet shows for over 20 years. From his home base in Whitehorse he has toured his shows in all of the Yukon’s communities, across the country and as far away as Japan.

Local creatives giving brief performances in the Short Works for Long Nights series will follow Fidler’s performances.

Viewers will also be treated to improv comedy from Folk Lordz, a duo made up of Todd Houseman and Ben Gorodetsky.

Gorodetsky and Houseman have been performing together under the Folk Lordz name since 2014.

Houseman is a Cree actor, improviser and writer from Edmonton.

“His work focuses on decolonization by prioritizing Indigenous narratives through satire, political commentary, and traditional/contemporary storytelling. Todd hopes his presence in the arts will add to the legacy of Indigenous performers in North America who have graciously paved the way for people like him,” Houseman’s artist bio, provided by Nakai Theatre, reads.

Gorodetsky, from Waterloo, Ont., is the former associate artistic director of Edmonton’s Rapid Fire Theatre. Folk Lordz came together while Gorodetsky and Houseman were performing at Rapid Fire.

“After leading an online workshop for Pivot 2021, it’s great to welcome them to the territory this time around,” Nakai Theatre’s announcement of the 2022 festival lineup reads.

Candice Roberts will be bringing her show,<em> Larry,</em> to the Pivot Festival in 2022. (Submitted)
Candice Roberts will be bringing her show, Larry, to the Pivot Festival in 2022. (Submitted)

For the first time in Whitehorse, Nakai Theatre is welcoming Candice Roberts and her alter-ego, Larry.

As Larry, Roberts explores her own experiences growing up as a female in rural B.C. in the 1980s and investigates gender stereotypes all while setting out to make people laugh.

Along with the opportunities for laughter, the festival is serving up some introspection with Pivot for the Future. Festival organizers describe it as two evenings of conversations to explore a better tomorrow through theatre.

In one of the evening sessions Christine Genier will share her ideas regarding Indigenous futurism and science fiction. On the other evening Nicole Schafenaker will lead a conversation about the arts’ role in climate justice.

The 2022 festival brings a return to a more typical arts and theatre festival as the 2021 offering that Nakai and Pivot put together had to be considerably more COVID-cautious. The festival this past January featured alternatives to live readings and shows including drive-along stories, outdoor activities and virtual events.

“This year we’re cautiously going back to delivering the festival in-person, which is more in line with our regular programming, and obviously, not everything is back, or back in the same way,” Jefferd-Moore said.

Festival organizers aren’t throwing off every feature of the 2021 festival as indoor performances make a return. The “sun room” feature at the Old Fire Hall that was well received in 2021 will be making a return.

“Even if international travel is technically allowed—let’s be realistic, most of us aren’t getting to a beach this winter,” festival organizers wrote about the sun room.

In 2021, people were able to book 20-minute sessions in the room filled with warmth, light and greenery as well as beach chairs towels in an effort to make them feel they were visiting a warmer month or a more southerly latitude.

Festival show passes and individual tickets are on sale now at

Contact Jim Elliot at

Jim Elliot

About the Author: Jim Elliot

I’m a B.C. transplant here in Whitehorse at The News telling stories about the Yukon's people, environment, and culture.
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