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World premiere of Inuit production Unikkaaqtuat coming to NAC

The circus production will tell 12 Inuit legends through the use of multimedia elements.
20200103 Unikkaaqtuat
Unikkaaqtuat. Photo/National Arts Centre

The NAC Indigenous Theatre will continue celebrating its inaugural season by kicking off the New Year with the world premiere of a new high-energy circus arts production, Unikkaaqtuat.

Inspired by the illustrations of Inuit artist Germaine Arnaktauyok, Unikkaaqtuat (meaning "Old Stories" in English) explores 12 Inuit legends and myths of creation through the use of circus arts, music, theatre and video production.

"Mainly (we'll be telling) legends of creation," co-director Patrick Leonard said. "Those stories are starting to be forgotten and we are trying to bring them to southerners… but also to re-tell them to the Inuit people out there."

The 90-minute production was a collaborative effort between Inuit circus group Artcirq, Quebec circus company The 7 Fingers and Inuit film production company Taqqut Productions, and took about five years to put together.

Arnaktauyok, who lives in Yellowknife, N.W.T., is known for creating drawings using pen and coloured pencil that depict the traditional Inuit stories she grew up with, according to the Inuit Gallery of Vancouver. She is celebrated for both her portrayals of relationships - particularly that of mother and child - and landscape images.

The legends are typically dark in nature, but Leonard explains the team will be using their visuals to tell them in a way that brings some light to their overall tone.

"Everything will be in Inuktitut," Leonard said. "So to be able to follow the stories, you'll have to (rely) mainly on visual and theatrical parts and let yourself be transported by this beautiful Inuktitut language."

The NAC will be the first stop in a five-city tour that also includes Camros, Alta., Nanaimo and Vancouver, B.C. and Yellowknife.

Ottawa's production runs Thursday, Jan.9 until Sunday, Jan. 12. Tickets are $15 to self-identifying members of the Indigenous community and start at $29 for the general public. They can be purchased online through the NAC website, in person at the NAC box office, at all Ticketmaster outlets or by phone. 

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