Blog / The Theatre

Q + A with Kim Villagante

Q + A with Kim Villagante

Kim Villagante, also known as K!mmortal, is an artistic force to be reckoned with. As a visual artist, singer-songwriter/emcee, and arts-based community organizer currently based on Coast Salish Territory aka Vancouver, Kim fuses her phenomenal artistic talents with her activism. In 2013, Kim's debut acting role in Sal Capone landed her a nomination in Montreal English Theatre Awards as "Outstanding Supporting Actress". In 2014, she released her debut album, "Sincerity" and represented Vancouver as the only Filipina emcee in 2015's Canadian Music Week. Her latest acting accomplishment was playing the lead in the one-woman play "Sister Mary's A Dyke" written by Flerida Peña and directed by Jan Derbyshire. Kim was awarded the Vancouver Mayor's Arts Award in Community-Engaged arts in 2013, and is also the founder of "SHE", an annual East-Vancouver event celebrating indigenous, black, and women of colour in WORD and MUSIC (shefestvan.com). Her recent self-directed animated music video, "Brushing by heaven's shoulder", was selected to be screened at San Francisco's Queer Women of Colour Film festival 2016.

Kim is in the Yukon preparing to perform in Sal Capone: the Lamentable Tragedy of this weekend, but she took some time out of her busy rehearsal schedule to answer a few questions for us about art, touring, and herself. Read on to find out more about this amazing multitalented artist!

Q; What’s the best thing about being a theatre artist?

A: Theatre is a powerful medium that pushes me to use every single part of my being ... Theatre truly makes me feel more alive. In this hip hop theatre production, I use my voice, to not just say my lines, but to rap and to sing...I use my body to dance, to explore what it's like to walk in Jewel's body, to interact with other characters ... theatre is an all encompassing medium. It teaches me to be critical and intentional with every move I make and all in service to the story.

Q: What would you do if you were not a theatre artist?

A: I'm actually primarily a rap-soul singer songwriter and visual artist  before I am a theatre artist. The director of Sal Capone casted me after seeing me perform at a spoken word show. I was invited to read the part of the script one day and got a callback that I got the part. This was in 2013- So taking theatre seriously is actually a pretty new turn in my artistic career. I love it so much though and want to continue doing it.

Q: What is the most memorable response you’ve ever experienced to your work?

A: A few Filipino folks in the audience came up to me after and expressed how they were really happy to see me represent on a Canadian stage. It also means so much to me when people end up talking about racism, homophobia, sexism, and power imbalance in the system and how that connects to police brutality. All the characters in this production are intense and on the edge because the stakes are high and there's always someone in the audience that can see themselves in a character. The most memorable response was a funny one when a black audience member in Montreal told me that my language on stage wasn't okay because I was using racist language so much. I think he believed I was actually the character of Jewel so much that he needed to give me a talk.

Q: Are you excited about touring to Whitehorse?

A: Definitely can't wait to see the northern lights, and I love how the sun shines bright here. Very different then Vancouver!


Q: Without giving too much away, what can audiences expect when they come to the show?

A: Expect the unpredictable - this is not a typical theatre production. Nothing is safe about it. Playwright Omari wrote this story talking about real social issues that are happening today - we
are calling attention to current issues - the black lives matter movement, missing and murdered indigenous women, transphobia and homophobia in a world that works to straighten queer lines. Expect a relevant story, and of course dope hip hop music created and coordinated by professional sound designer Troy Slocum as well as original raps written by us actors who are also musicians.

Q: What has been the most rewarding part of working on this show?

A: I got a couple: Meeting my cast mates who are each such passionate go getters and who have become family to me. It has been such a blessing in my life to work in a team to bring this story to life. Thru this show I had also realized my potential as an artist and what I am capable of.

Thanks Kim!

To learn about about Kim's art, check out this clip from CBC!

 


Be sure to get your tickets to Sal Capone: The Lamentable Tragedy of, running this weekend (March 18 + 19) at the Yukon Arts Centre! It promises to be an unforgettable, powerful production!

Q + A with Candace Woodland

Q + A with Candace Woodland

Candace Woodland, a graduate of the Canadian College of Performing Arts, is delighted to reprise her role as Columbia in The Rocky Horror Show. Though she is currently working towards her Bachelor of Sociology, Candace is still in love with theatre. Some of her favourite roles have included Puck in A Midsummer Nights Dream, Lady Capulet in Romeo and Juliet, Tranio in The Taming of the Shrew, Constanze in Amadeus, and Helen of Troy in The Penelopiad. 

Candace took the time to answer some questions from us about her first experience with Rocky, her excitement about touring, and her other interest - sociology!

Q: What’s the best thing about being a theatre artist?

A: It’s quite possible that the best thing about being a theatre artist is the wonderful, surprising opportunities that this career tends to throw into one’s path. Because of my art, I’ve had the chance to explore parts of myself I’d never considered before as I adapt to new and challenging roles. I’ve been able to learn discipline and dedication in the way only a two week rehearsal process can demand. I’ve had the opportunity to spend entire summers performing outside in the setting sun and under the stars for a bunch of people eating picnics and cuddling under blankets. And now, I get to fly to the Yukon to perform The Rocky Horror Show with a company I co-founded with a group of my friends. It’s unbelievably exciting. On top of all this, I get to bond with new people constantly, and basically play dress up all the time. It’s like Halloween comes four or five times a year. And, of course, the thrill of making audience members laugh or cry is one of the most rewarding feelings I’ve ever experienced.

Q: What would you do if you were not a theatre artist?

A: I can’t really imagine not being involved in the arts at all. I’m actually also a full time student in Sociology right now, so I’d probably still be doing that. But I don’t think I would enjoy it as much.  I love school because it’s an opportunity for me to be quiet and introverted and work on my own in the day times, while my nights are filled with extroversion, excitement, and tons of group work. I think it’s the balance of the two that I love. So, probably just wouldn’t be as happy if I wasn’t an artist.

Q: What is the most memorable response you’ve ever experienced to your work?

A: Definitely my most memorable experience was during the first time I performed in The Rocky Horror Show, two years ago in Victoria BC. I played Columbia (as I still do now). The theatre was completely sold out, and the crowd was wild, but I didn’t fully understand how into it they were until “Time Warp” started playing and they just lost it. I remember that my tap solo (which I’d worked pretty hard on, since I’m definitely not an advanced tapper) was completely drowned out by screaming and cheering. I was so overwhelmed by their excitement – it felt like a huge wall of their positive energy just slammed right into my chest – that I actually had a split second where I teared up because it felt so incredibly joyful and interactive, and I had to snap back into character and keep performing. Actually, playing Columbia in general for the past three years has just been amazingly memorable. The responses I get, both on stage and off, are so positive and filled with such excitement. I think that’s a neat thing that Rocky Horror does that not all shows do; it creates this fandom of people who are excited beyond belief to be a part of the show both on stage and off.

Q: Are you excited about touring?

A: YES! Personally, I’ve never toured before. I graduated from theatre school five years ago, and I’ve had a lot of luck performing in my own home town – plus, I’m back in school for Sociology – so touring hasn’t been an opportunity for me until now. Travel is my second favourite thing in the world (next to theatre) so I can’t wait to combine the two! It just feels so neat to be able to share our show with an entirely new group of people. Plus, it’s an added bonus that my first tour is also with the company I co-founded. I am so incredibly proud to be a part of creating our company, RKO, and this show. To be able to tour it so soon is such an amazing treat.

Q: When was the first time you saw Rocky Horror?
A: Technically, I first saw Rocky Horror when I was in high school. I remember liking the feeling it gave me, but since I watched it alone in my mom’s basement, it wasn’t much of a social experience so it didn’t make a lasting impression on me. Fast forward almost a decade, and I was auditioning for The Rocky Horror Show (with a different company) without remembering the movie very much at all. They had me read for Columbia, and, to be honest, I barely knew who she was, so I just guessed at what she should be like! Right after my audition, I went to my friend Erica’s house, and she couldn’t believe that I’d just auditioned for Rocky without realizing what an amazing show it was, so she put on the movie right away. I remember sitting on her couch, drinking tea, and thinking “This movie is AMAZING! Why did I let myself go to that audition so unprepared?!?”. Luck was on my side, and I landed the role despite my lack of research. I was SO happy when I was offered Columbia! She’s been my favourite alter ego ever since.

Q: What was the process of working on the show like?
A: t’s been really interesting this year because about three quarters of our cast are reprising our roles from last year, and some of us are even reprising our roles for the third time. I think this gave us an advantage. We already had the framework of the show down, so we were able to get really specific and add a lot of depth to our characters, at least for ourselves. We have such a great team on this show, so most of the time we’re laughing our way through rehearsal. It’s really been a blast.

Q: What was the response in Victoria?
A; Victoria loved our show both this year and last year. We’ve had amazing support from our community, and a super positive response. It feels so good to leave the theatre and walk past groups of people raving about the show, or singing the songs that are still stuck in their heads. It’s so fun to know we’ve created this awesome event for so many people to enjoy!

Q: What was the best / most fun part of working on the show?
A:  think the most fun part of working on the show has been the ability to take a character whom I’ve played a few times before, and try some completely new things. Working with Britt (our director) really pushed me way out of my comfort zone, and I find these moments in the show that I never would have on my own, or when I first played Columbia back in 2013. I love that I have the chance to take a new stab at a character I absolutely love – and I think the rest of my team feels the same way about their characters! Coming back to a role you’ve previously played is such a treat; there is always more to discover.

Thanks Candace!

Be sure to get your tickets to The Rocky Horror Show, running November 25th – 28th at the Yukon Arts Centre. Also, join us to do the Time Warp – again! at our after-party on Friday night.

Q + A with Britt Small

Q + A with Britt Small

Britt Small studied at LaMama's Director's Intensive in Italy and has trained in various physical theatre forms. She completed her MFA in Directing at the University of Victoria with a production of Sophocles' Electra. She is the artistic producer of company Atomic Vaudeville and plays in the band Slut Revolver. Nationally and internationally, Britt has directed Janet Munsil's Circus Fire and The Ugly Duchess, Jacob Richmond's The Qualities of Zero, Ride the Cyclone and Legoland, The Fantasticks and True West for Blue Bridge Repertory Theatre, numerous new Fringe Festival plays, and Firebugs at the William Head prison. Her work as a director has received several national awards as well as a Jessie nomination for My Chernobyl at the Gateway and the Belfry. Britt also works as a dramaturge and book editor and has taught acting, play building, movement and improvisation for various organizations including the University of Victoria and the Canadian College of Performing Arts.

Yukon audiences are likely most familiar with Britt’s work after seeing Ride the Cyclone. She’s coming back to the Territory next week as director of Rebel Knock Out Productions’ The Rocky Horror Show. We asked Britt a few questions about her work, Rocky, and her most memorable experiences as a director.

Q: What’s the best thing about being a theatre artist?

A: The best thing about being a theatre artist is sharing the creative process and acts of discovery with a group of people.  Building something together, the satisfaction of completion.

Q: If you weren’t a theatre artist, what would you be doing?

A: If I wasn't a theatre artist, I’d likely be involved in science or medicine in some way.  I was studying science at McGill before I left for the west coast.

Q: What’s the most memorable reaction you’ve had to your work?

A: Actually when we performed Ride the Cyclone in Whitehorse, I remember that show being quite memorable, because the show was partly about a small town and the complicated feelings arising from growing up in an isolated community.  I remember the audience being very in touch with the show and feeling moved by the shared experience with the community.  I really felt that the audience understood the piece in a way audiences had not before and I learned something new about the piece myself while we were here.

Q: What’s the best part of touring The Rocky Horror Show?

A: We are so excited to be bringing the show to Whitehorse.  If it's successful we may do a more extensive tour next year.  The audiences in Victoria love [Rocky] so much we remounted it this year and added shows.  The music is infectious; we have a great time working on the show.  It's a really fun show [and] the story is ridiculous so we have a lot of fun camping up the text and embracing all the outrageous characters.

Thanks Britt!

Be sure to get your tickets to The Rocky Horror Show, running next week, November 25th – 28th at the Yukon Arts Centre. Also, join us to do the Time Warp – again! at our after-party on Friday night.

Bringing it home: Ivan Coyote

Bringing it home: Ivan Coyote

It’s not enough to say that I am excited to bring our show, Tomboy Survival Guide home to the place I was born and raised. It’s so much more for me than just exciting.

I’m going to try and put it all into context for you. I planted the trees and shrubs outside of the Yukon Arts Centre, in the summer of 1992, I think it was, when I was working for Iditarod Landscaping. I helped lay the bricks in the little outdoor amphitheater just in front of the big glass doors, I laid the sod and watered and mowed the grass there. I was 23 and working on my first book. I remember sitting there on my lunch hour, looking out over my hometown and dreaming that one day I would be an artist and a writer, and one day I might get to perform there, inside on that big fancy stage.

From the YAC archives: a crowd gathers in the garden for Yukon Arts Centre's opening day, 29 May 1992.
From the YAC archives: a crowd gathers in the garden for Yukon Arts Centre's opening day, 29 May 1992.

Well it’s 23 years later and those little shrubs are well rooted trees now and my eleventh book is due out next fall and I’m bringing three of the best musicians I know with me to perform on that stage on September 17th. Tomboy Survival Guide is the most intimate, personal show I have ever written. The stories are rooted in my Whitehorse childhood, in my Yukon blood, they are written in the clay cliffs and the Qwanlin Mall and the alleys behind my grandmother’s old house on Alexander Street.

Coyote, Willekes, Zori, and Gorman perform as Tomboy Survival Guide. Photo courtesy of Ivan Coyote.
Coyote, Willekes, Zori, and Gorman perform as Tomboy Survival Guide. Photo by Fubarfoto.

None of the other members of my band have ever had a chance to see Whitehorse, Sally was born in Iraq and grew up in the Middle East and then Toronto, and Pebbles hails from Amsterdam.

I am bringing the far-flung parts of my life and art home, and telling stories born and raised in Whitehorse, just as I am so very proud to be. Most of my family will be there with us. I hope you can come and be there, too.

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Ivan Coyote was born and raised in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory. An award-winning author of eight collections of short stories, a collection of essays, one novel, three CD’s, four short films and a renowned performer. 

Tomboy Survival Guide is made up of Ivan Coyote, bass player Pebbles Willekes, drummer Sally Zori, and trumpet player Alison Gorman. They are bringing the show to the Yukon Arts Centre on September 17, 2015. 

The Sound of Drums

The Sound of Drums

Can you feel the rhythm? Internationally renowned Japanese drumming sensations Uzume Taiko can definitely help you out! Get excited for West Coast Canada’s premiere professional taiko drumming group!

The Japanese Canadian Association of Yukon (JCAY) and Yukon Arts Centre present Uzume Taiko, a drumming group which started its roots in 1988 as Canada’s first professional taiko group. Combining both old and new styles of drumming, Uzume Taiko preforms not only with music but with talent, expression, enthusiasm, and a true enjoyment for what they do. Their enchanting performances contain choreographed movements that feel like a martial arts dance with thunderous drum rhythms. Artistic director Bonnie Soon describes taiko as a “body, mind, soul, spirit experience.” Uzume Taiko is known for their colourful costumes and energetic exhibition as they jump, dance, shout, swap positions, and throw in as many pieces of comedy as they can. This theatrical hybrid will have you leaving the performance with the urge to groove.




Uzume Taiko use an array of instruments and drums. Their name comes from the Japanese word taiko meaning “big drum,” and Uzume which comes from from the goddess of laughter (Ame No Uzume No Mikoto - the Heavenly Alarming Female), who as legend has it, first began taiko drumming. Uzume Taiko’s performance is inspired by the festival drumming of Japan, and as Bonnie Soon explains, “our mandate is to create new music for the drum; so we create new Canadian compositions for the taiko drum.”




Whitehorse hasn’t seen Uzume Taiko since 2005, and we are excited to announce that they will be offering a number of events while they’re here, including school shows, workshops, and even an outdoor performance at Shipyards Park.

Uzume Taiko is one of the most experimental taiko groups, exploring fusion with musical forms of other heritages. The group also provides cultural education by enlightening audiences on the history of the practice and several Japanese traditional cultural elements (including Japanese mythological masks!).

“Sharing our West Coast Canadian expression for the taiko drum and communicating the power of the human spirit is what Uzume Taiko Ensemble musicians do well.” Bonnie Soon, Artistic Director
 

Here’s what Uzume Taiko is up to in Whitehorse:
Thursday, June 11: Outdoor Performance at Shipyards Park at 3:15pm
Friday, June 12: Concert at Yukon Arts Centre at 8:00pm
Saturday, June 13: Taiko Drumming Basics Workshops at The Old Fire Hall at 10:30am and 2:00pm

We hope to see you there!

Header photo by Keith Robertson