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Nunavut Theatre Company looks back on debut production Artifice

More projects planned for future says company’s VP
Left to right, Artifice cast members David Venn, Mollie King, Jill Bonnet, Bridget Campbell, Bibi Bilodeau, Hillary Casey and Aloka Wijesooriya. Dustin Patar photo courtesy of Nunavut Theatre Company ᓴᐅᒥᖕᒥ ᑕᓕᖅᐱᖕᒧᑦ, Artifice ᐃᓚᒋᔭᐅᖃᑕᐅᔪᑦ ᑕᐃᕕᑦ ᕕᓐ, ᒫᓕ ᑭᖕ, ᓕᐅᔾ ᐹᓂᑦ, ᐳᕆᔾᔨᑦ ᑳᒻᐳᓪ, ᐲᐱ ᐱᓗᑑ, ᕼᐃᓗᕆ ᑲᐃᓯ ᐊᒻᒪ ᐊᓗᑲ ᐅᐃᔨᓲᕆᕙ.

From Nov. 11 to 13 the Nunavut Theatre Company, an Iqaluit-based theatre company, launched its debut production, Artifice by playwright Anne Flanagan, at the Aqsarniit Hotel.

Artifice is about an artist who gets his big break after being assumed dead, with his estranged wife having to sell the now valuable collection to avoid bankruptcy.

When the artist returns home, comedy and chaos ensue.

As the company’s first play, it was a challenging experience for the cast and crew that ultimately paid off, according to the play’s director.

“I think it went great, there were a lot of things we had to figure out, it being our first production but overall the end product was just amazing,” said Alex Michaud, director of Artifice and vice-president of the Nunavut Theatre Company. “The cast was great and doing their best and the stage the crew, as well, was working a lot to make sure that it happened and they turned out a great show.”

All of the cast and crew were there for each other to make this play a reality said one of its actors.

“The level of support that was there both in the cast and the crew, that really shined through in the week leading up to the performance,” said Aloka Wijesooriya, who played Rachel in Artifice. “It was great that everyone was able to support one another during that stressful time period.”

While the main character of Rachel in the original version of the play was written as Richard, there was a certain flexibility with many of the characters in the play, particularly when it came to the casting.

“We were always ready to genderbend the character, so she came in for Richard and the second she came in, it was Aloka and no one else, through and through, she was always prepared,” said Michaud.

“Through the conversations with the creative team and also with myself some of us suggested Rachel as a name, and that’s the character that became the star of the show, so to speak,” added Wijesooriya.

Wijesooriya adds the casting was more based on the energy that each actor brought to a particular character rather than their gender or other factors.

“That, I really appreciated about the experience,” she said, “and the level of teamwork.”

While the play is a comedy, the emotional core of the play, Michaud said, came from characters Maggie and Payne Showers played by Mollie King and David Venn respectively.

“There’s so much history from before and it’s such a complicated moment (when they meet). I wanted to make sure when those characters are on-(stage) people could be with them.”

While this is his first time directing, Michaud said he’s no stranger to community theatre, having acted in local plays before. This was a similar experience he said, however, “it felt like the first time, in terms of the sheer amount of things” he had to do in directing.

Wijesooriya has also acted in community theatre before, however playing Rachel was her largest role to date, saying “it was a daunting, but at the same time a challenging experience” for her.

“I’m very grateful because I wanted to get out of my comfort zone and this character Richard/Rachel was very much out of my comfort zone,” she added.

While the first Thursday night show was a bit slower, Michaud said there were lots of people who came out to support community theatre on Friday and Saturday.

“Thank you to the whole community for coming to see our show and coming to help us, we have more projects in the pipe coming up,” said Michaud.

Mollie King, left, and Aloka Wijesooriya share a scene in Artifice. Dustin Patar photo courtesy of Nunavut Theatre Company ᒫᓕ ᑭᖕ, ᓴᐅᒥᖕᒥ, ᐊᒻᒪ ᐊᓗᑲ ᐅᐃᔨᓲᕆᕙ ᑕᑯᒃᓴᐅᔪᐃᓐᓇᐅᕗᑦ Artifice–ᒥ.
Left to right, the cast of Artifice, Bridget Campbell, Mollie King, David Venn, Bibi Bilodeau, Hillary Casey, Marlene Letkeman-Holst, Jill Bonnet, Aloka Wijesooriya. Dustin Patar photo courtesy of Nunavut Theatre Company