The Arviat Drama Club went back to an old standard and delivered A Thanksgiving to Remember in both Inuktitut and English at John Arnalukjuak High School (JAHS) in Arviat on Oct. 6.
And the cast also threw in a holiday meal following the performance to all who attended.
The play featured eight main actors with speaking roles and another 14 playing the homeless people at the soup kitchen and shelter.
The roles were opened up to the public this time around and the role call was answered by four former graduates, as well as school janitor Elizabeth Koomak and a number of students from all three Arviat schools.
Director Gord Billard said the club has performed the 20-minute play about five times in Arviat, with the previous production coming back in 2006.
Billard said he received a lot of positive feedback on the performance, which was full of both humorous and sad moments.
“It’s basically the story of two families. The Smith family have two really greedy kids who want more and more and more of everything,” said Billard. “Then, on Thanksgiving Day, mom decides that she’s going to bring the kids to the soup kitchen and, in the meantime, we meet the Murray family: a mother who has lost her job and is out on the street with her two children after their father died.
“They end up at the same soup kitchen, where the Smith mother befriends the Murray mother and offers her a job as a secretary at her little company.
“At the end, the rich son, Bobby, has an epiphany when he has an encounter with all the homeless people he saw at the shelter and realizes how lucky he is. It ends with him wiping his eyes and saying, ‘I get it now.'”
When Billard first brought the play to Arviat, he had it translated after its first showing. Over the years it has become the club’s go-to bilingual production.
“We hadn’t done it in a while and, when I came across it in my script files, I thought we should resurrect it this year because we haven’t done anything in Inuktitut in quite a while now,” said Billard.
“I was little bit skeptical at first because we only had about four weeks to put it together and I wasn’t sure that was enough time to get enough skilled actors, good in both languages, to pull it off.
“I was really fortunate to get an excellent group that showed up regularly and became our core, with four of them really strong in both their Inuktitut and English readings.
“They became the anchors for the group and they pulled the show off marvelously.”
The drama club performed for students on Oct. 5 before doing a double show for the public on Oct. 6.
The troupe performed the English version, took a 20-minute break, then came back on stage and performed the Inuktitut version.
Billard said it was new JAHS principal Don Peters who suggested serving a meal to the audience following the Oct. 6 performance.
He said a meal of turkey stew, caribou stew and bannock was served to the more than 100 people who attended.
“It was a big hit. We had the meal on the common area steps, so it was a really casual atmosphere, with people chit-chatting and mingling with the actors and crew as music played in the background.
“It was really cool and I think it would be a cool annual event to have because it gets people in the school.
“We only charged our normal $2 for the performance and the recreation department had a canteen for the play, which also did very well.
“The kids did it flawlessly in both languages, with not a single trip-up during either performance. It was really well done.”