Inuk artist Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory and queer theatre-maker Evalyn Parry met on an Arctic expedition from Iqaluit to Greenland. Now they share the stage in Kiinalik: These Sharp Tools; a concert, dialogue, and symbolic convergence between the North and the South of our country. These two powerful storytellers map new territory together in a work that gives voice and body to the lived histories, culture, and climate we have inherited, and then asks how we reckon with these sharp tools.
Astounding... Another example of how working together rather than in conflict can lead to the best theatre.
This multi-media performance challenges the audience to confront their lack of knowledge and chase the opportunity to learn. Williamson Bathory and Parry, accompanied by cellist cris derksen, engage each other with music, stories, and an urgency to work together to cultivate understanding, however unsettling it may be: “Good theatre explains our world and the worlds of others and makes us feel uncomfortable—uncomfortable about how we define ourselves, about our perceptions of the world and other cultures, uncomfortable when our comfort zone is invaded. Kiinalik: These Sharp Tools does all of this beautifully” (Intermission Magazine).
The two performers combine their artistic arsenals to convey the complexity of the North and its past through folk songs, throat-singing, storytelling, historical and autobiographical material, and uajeerneq (Greenlandic mask dancing). Used together these tools create powerful moments, some “astonishing and almost frightening in [their] transgressive power” (Now Toronto).
In the Inuktitut language, when a knife is dull, it is said to “have no face”. The word “Kiinalik” translates to mean the knife is sharp – or, “it has a face”. Embodying stories from both their heritages, Williamson Bathory and Parry put a face to colonial histories, power structures, and the changing climate that lies between them.
Lead image features Evalyn Parry and Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory. Photos by Jeremy Mimnagh.