NORTHERN LABRADOR, N.L. — When many people think of artists from Labrador, the assumption automatically goes to thinking of visual artists producing items like grass baskets and soapstone carvings. However, there are many other areas of interest all across Labrador, including the theatrical arts.
Many generations of young people have caught the acting bug from the Labrador Creative Arts Festival. Many of these same young people have grown up, developed careers and families, and now live in north coast communities.
They have the desire to keep acting, but found there were not many opportunities to do so. It appears as though this opportunity has arrived.
A partnership between Nunatsiavut Government and Memorial University has made this possible. Adults are writing plays to be presented, with the help of a team of experienced writers and theatre creators. The communities of Nain and Makkovik wrote their plays last year, and this year Rigolet has followed suit.
Arts festival veterans Tim Borlase and Martha MacDonald have been making their way to these northern communities to work with many arts festival alumni to create new theatre.
Another member of the project is Robert Jacque of Rigolet, who is helping with the theatre creation.
He is the youngest person involved in the project creation, having graduated from Northern Lights Academy just a year ago. Jacque took on many roles in his years as a student involved in the festival, including a play about resistance to Muskrat Falls.
Jacque said the plan was to see if there is any interest in forming adult theatre groups on the north coast of Labrador. Borlase spearheaded the project, which is to engage a group to write and produce a play in just three weeks, which will then be performed for their community.
“Our hope is that these groups may continue to perform on their own in the years to come,” Jacque said. “The original idea came from president Johannes Lampe, who hoped that once the Illusuak Cultural Centre in Nain is open, that people from all across Nunatsiavut could come to perform there.”
Jacque said he and Borlase had been to Nain and Makkovik last spring, and were in Rigolet a few weeks ago.
“Currently, we are organizing a group in Hopedale. As for the future of the project, nothing is for certain, but Tim may try to get a group together in Postville in the near future,” according to Jacque.
Eventually this anthology of the plays will be published, made possible through funding from the Canada Council of the Arts. This week, MacDonald and Borlase will travel to the north coast to meet with people and discuss the project. For more information contact Borlase or MacDonald.