Monday, November 16, 2015

History of the Labrador Creative Arts Festival

Wednesday marks the opening of the 40th Labrador Creative Arts Festival, and it's such a great event that I have to note the anniversary. The festival brings writers, painters, dancers, musicians from all genres, mostly but not exclusively from Atlantic Canada, into Happy Valley-Goose Bay for a week each year. The artists, billeted with local families, tour schools around Labrador all week, and then the students come to Goose to present plays they have been creating all year -- sometimes works from the canon but mostly scripted by the student-actors themselves and rooted in local experience. It's an extraordinary educational and theatrical project in a community that understands it has to make its own cultural experience, and I still feel privileged to have been one of the visitors (as a children's author) in 2010, my only extended visit to Labrador.

I vividly remember a presentation of Romeo mak Juliet by the Innu students of Natuashish.  They did it in vernacular English, not the Shakespeare text (or Innu), but it was set in Natuashish and the sense of rival community factions making life miserable for the young people was powerful as hell.

I also remember eating cod, caribou, and even Canada goose, not as some kind of cultural experience but just a part of ordinary meals since, given the cost of food, everyone hunts and fishes.

Also that the community of North-West River is locally pronounced "Striver."

I don't think many historians get included in their artist selections.  But I'd go back like a shot.  Rock on, everybody.

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