After 2 weeks in the north (and for some of us 3 weeks!), Toronto feels like an unfamiliar place. We landed at Pearson on Friday evening after enjoying a cast dinner at the Fishbowl in Timmins. Earlier that day we performed our last show – a school matinee in Iroquois Falls. The kids were buzzing through the whole performance and burst into shouts and applause as we took our last bows. It was a great note to end on and one that seemed to capture the spirit of our tour.
In Michael’s pre-show chat, he talked about the meaning of this work and how the experience of being part of its creation has been a particularly proud moment in his career. This certainly resonates for me, and I think for many of the cast members. It is a significant work and our experience of it has also been significant.
In the process of reflecting on why this production has had such a transformative impact on the cast and audiences, I realized that in many ways, this work embodies the spirit of family and community. By the end of 4 weeks of rehearsal and performance, a new sense of family and community exists between us as a cast and with the audiences that experienced and were affected by the work.
On several levels, Pimooteewin is a convergence of communities. It brings together the artistic communities of dance, theatre and music and it also brings together cultural communities including Cree and a myriad of other cultural experiences present in the audience and cast. But perhaps most importantly this work draws together a much larger community – a community of human beings. The work’s universal theme of loss and acceptance is a fundamental part of the human experience and the work provides insight into an interpretation of life and death through the eyes of the Cree culture. It is through this interpretation that we can connect our own stories and experiences of life and death, loss and acceptance because these things are what make us human and ultimately connect us together in the biggest and most significant sense of what that means.
I am looking forward to future collaborations with the incredible artistic and technical team that worked on this show. With plans for further touring to northern communities next spring, I am hopeful that we will work together again. It has been a great pleasure and an experience that will always be an unforgettable landmark for me in my career. Thank you Michael for being our visionary director and choreographer, to our exceptional tech team Sam and Kevin, to my fellow Koroko Julia, Ryan and Meegwun, our incredible choir director Lydia and musicians Shawn and John, and to Artistic Director Laurence and General Manager Jesse and all the staff at Soundstreams Canada for making this project happen and last but never least to the Elmer Eisler Singers who do the best damn rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’ I’ve EVER heard.
Breakfast at Broadway Diner anyone?
ps – Check out some photos of our time in Moosonee taken by local photographer and journalist Paul Lantz: http://paullantz.smugmug.com/gallery/8139270_YUvaP#P-1-18