by Lynn on May 22, 2022

in The Passionate Playgoer

Live and in person at Harbourfront Centre. The JUNIOR Festival of local, national and international works for young audiences 4-14 and their adults. On until May 23.

Those Who Run in the Sky (Angakkussaq)

From the National Theatre of Greenland (Nunatta Isiginnaartitsisarfia)

Performed in Kalaallisut/Greenlandic English context will be provided (but it wasn’t).

From the novel by Aviaq Johnston

Adapted and directed by Patti Shaughnessy

Movement by Bill Coleman

Cast: Salik Gudmundsen Lennert

Milla Marie Peterse

Josef Tarrak-Petrussen

Dina Fisker Sandgreen

I’m using the detailed story synopsis from the program information to fully describe the story because the show is in Kalaallisut/Greenlandic. The program says that “English context will be provided” but it was not.

“Those Who Run in the Sky is a coming-of-age story that follows a young shaman named Pitu as he learns to use his powers and ultimately makes his way back to the world of the living from the world of spirits. This piece is performed in Kalaallisut/Greenlandic. English context will be provided. 

After a strange blizzard leaves Pitu stranded on the sea ice, without his dog team or any weapons to defend himself, he realizes that he is no longer in the world that he once knew. The storm has carried him into the world of the spirits, one populated with terrifying creatures that want to pull him into the frigid ocean through an ice crack and less frightening – but equally as incredible – creatures, such as a lone giant who can carry Pitu in the palm of her hand and keeps caribou and polar bears as pets.

After stumbling upon a fellow Shaman who has been trapped in the spirit world for many years, Pitu must master all of his powers to make his way back to the world of the living, his family and to the one he loves.”

The story-telling and movement are wonderfully vivid in expression and one can glean some of the story because of the actions. In one wonderful image, Pitu kills an animal and carefully cuts it open and puts his hands in the hot blood of the animal. The look of bliss on his face at the revery is wonderful. Then to pay homage to the animal, Pitu drinks a handful of the animal’s blood. More revery. He shares the bounty with his family/village. When Pitu must go on his journey to learn the lessons of being a shaman, the other cast members sit to the side offering sound effects of the wind, the spirits etc. When Pitu does meet the ‘lost shaman’ that shaman speaks English in two speeches for some reason. And it’s not as if that shaman is offering a translation of what Pitu is saying to the spirits etc.—he isn’t. It would have been helpful if there were in fact English surtitles to guide us through the important details of the story, but none was offered. And there was no English context given.

As I said, the performances and the movement and direction, the projections etc. created that mysterious world. Glad to see it, but a bit more clarity should have been offered regarding the language.

Harbourfront Centre Presents:

Closes, May 23, 2022.

Running time: 1 hour.

A Story of a House That Turned into A Dot

Teatret Gruppe 38


Written by Bodil Alling

Directed by Catherine Poher

Composer, sound designer, Søren Søndberg

Lighting designed by Søren La Cour

Cast: Bodil Alling

Søren La Cour

Søren Søndberg

She became so hopping mad

 She became so fizzling furious

She became so livid with rage

that she opened the window and climbed down the ladder and then she ran.

She ran and ran and ran

And ran, ran, ran

And she ran there and she ran around

And ran over and ran under

And ran down, down, down, down, down

And ran up, up, up, up, up

And ran forward and ran along

And ran off, off, off,

And when she turned

The house had turned into a dot.

The poem as explanation says a lot, but it was the strawberries that set her off. It was summer. Bees buzzed, birds chirped, trees rustled, the sun shone and strawberries were plump and luscious. The little girl’s mother brought a lot of the strawberries home for her three children. There was the older brother who got a strawberry, the younger brother got one and the young sister got one as well. In turn the siblings showed off their strawberry until somehow the little girl lost hers. We don’t know how. We don’t know if she ate it and forgot. We know she lost it and her brothers and mother didn’t put too much concern on its loss. They said it didn’t matter etc. But it mattered to the little girl who became so upset and enraged that she left home and ran off. She ran to a place that was very cold. She met animals that made noise. She was totally alone. Her anger subsided and all she wanted was her mother. She found her way home where she was met with a warm house, clean sheets on the bed, a bedtime story and a kiss on the forehead.

Bodil Alling is the Artistic Leader of Teatret Gruppe 38 from Denmark, the creator of the piece and the narrator of the story. Her manner is quiet, compelling and expressive. She says that it’s summer and her two colleagues bring out malleable poles with birds on them; sound effects of bees, birds chirping and trees rustling to suggest the gentle noises of summer. Projections appear on a screen at the back. A large wood table with drawers and shelves hide props, masks and other stuff. To give a sense of the imagination of the group in drawing the audience into this world, there are many glass vases clumped together on the table and both assistants shine flashlights at the vases. The sparkling, stark light suggests the cold that the little girl experiences as she runs away from home. So simple and so effective.

This is the second company from Denmark in as many days that have presented work at JUNIOR. Kitt Johnson X-Act presented SPOIIIIIIIIING that I saw yesterday and they were terrific. Is there something in the water in Denmark that produces such imaginative, creative work? Can we import some here?


Harbourfront Centre Presents:

Played only until May 22, 2022

Running Time: 40 minutes

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