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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.


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

Vinyl Cafe shows to be postponed

Vinyl Cafe shows to be postponed

The Yukon Arts Centre regrets to announce that the Vinyl Cafe shows scheduled for June 1, 2 and 3, 2015 have been postponed.

Stuart McLean will be having surgery on one of his legs. The recovery will make travel and performing difficult. As a result, the shows are being rescheduled to accommodate his recovery.

Re-scheduled dates will be announced as soon as possible in the autumn of 2015.

Ticket holders are being encouraged to hold onto their tickets as they will be valid for the rescheduled performances. Refunds will be available until ten days after the new dates are announced. We will send out a notice as soon as we know more.

Stuart McLean and the Vinyl Cafe team are looking forward to their visit to the Yukon, and have extended their apologies to ticket holders.

If you have questions about your tickets, please contact the YAC Box Office at (867) 667-8574.

For media inquiries, please contact Eric Epstein, Artistic Director of the Yukon Arts Centre at

We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this may cause and thank everyone for their patience. We wish Stuart a speedy recovery.

A Guy Obsessed with 12 Notes but They’re Just in a Different Order

A Guy Obsessed with 12 Notes but They’re Just in a Different Order

This weekend, on Sunday May 17th at 7:30pm, Jazz Yukon and the Yukon Arts Centre and are co-presenting a very special collaboration concert of our very own Daniel Janke and Canada’s internationally renowned Mark Fewer.

This show will be nothing short of uniquely entertaining as the duo alludes to what could be expected of their collaborative recording project, on the theme of 'visual music'. Pieces in this concert will feature in a CD recording, Music for Strings (title TBA), set to release on the Centrediscs label. This concert features Janke’s unique composition style and Fewer’s virtuosic playing. The style straddles boundaries between contemporary music and modal string writing traditions.

We welcome Mark Fewer to Whitehorse for the first time. Fewer became immersed in music at a very young age.  In fact, when he was 10 years old, Fewer had played for Pope John Paul II, and for Prince Charles and Princess Diana during their respected visits to his home town in Fort St. John. That was just the beginning of the long list of accomplishments that Mark Fewer`s musical career has gained.

Here’s a Global News excerpt of an interview by Richard Dagenais on Morning News Montreal:

RD:  “You`re described as genre-bending, you play jazz, avant-garde, classical. Who is the real Mark Fewer?”

MF:  “Probably a guy obsessed with 12 notes but they’re just in a different order. People often ask me that question, what I would really want to do if I had to make a choice, and I don’t really have a good answer for that. Because I like to think that it’s possible to be fully invested in whatever music you’re looking at, at that moment; whether it’s classical,  whether is Bach, whether it’s jazz or something avant-garde. Whatever it is, you can really put your full sense of musicality into it rather than feeling like just being aware of one piece of pie of where you have to stay. Maybe that’s kind of my gypsy nature that I don’t like to be in one place for too long, and that means creatively that I like to look at a lot of different things. And I think the idea that you can look at things with a different perspectives is actually really healthy. So if you’re spending time in the jazz world, and you come back to Bach, let’s say, you see a whole other Bach.”

RD:  “So, why aren’t more musicians doing that?”

MF:  "When I was starting out, maybe 20 years ago, I was probably one of the only ones doing this. But now there’s a lot more people interested in a lot more of what’s out there. You can maybe credit the internet for a little bit of that, but I also credit a few very specific classical individuals namely Nigel Kennedy, and one of my very favourite violinist that’s alive today name Enrico Onofri. They really decided that you could break out of the mold of control and find an awful lot more to put into your music making.”

RD:  “That’s an important lesson”

MF:  “For everything!”

RD: “Yeah, for everything, for young students in music. You're a teacher, is that something you try?

MF:  “Well, you know, it’s a delicate balance because depending on the level of the student they may need a certain type of training to get to their next level if you look at it from a technical perspective. But, musically, they have their own thing to say, and so for me to try and take my ideas and tell them ‘”no, this is how music goes” well then you’re on shaky ground at that point. Because you shouldn’t really be telling somebody else what music is all about – they have their own thing to say about it. It’s something they can explore on their own. So as a teacher I love that exploration with others and so if I can do that with students, that’s great. This week I’m doing that with colleagues, this week I’m doing it with ‘I Musici’ because I can’t really tell these people “no, it’s this way or the highway”. The new world of classical musicians is here, and it’s here to stay.

For tickets go to: