Lyne Paquette uses First Nations symbolism and a truck camper as the set to transport audiences to a winter in Whitehorse for Talisman Theatre’s latest production.

We may complain about harsh Québec winters, but Talisman Theatre’s current production, Yukonstyle, will make you feel lucky to experience a Montreal winter rather than one in Whitehorse.  The play transports audience members to a winter which brought four unlikely characters together to endure the coldest months of the year in Canada’s northern territory of Yukon.

“These characters are all wounded in some way, they are all escaping something. Despite being very improbable characters, their paths all crossed one day to end up spending the winter together in Whitehorse.” Said Lyne Paquette, the artistic director for Talisman Theatre, as well as the set designer for Yukonstyle.

The majority of the play takes place within a mobile home in Whitehorse. Using this photograph as her inspiration:

camper

Lyne designed a revolving set made from a truck camper purchased from Kijiji, divided into three separate pieces. “The pieces each revolve on one another to show an outside and an inside perspective,” explained Lyne. “The stage rotates to show different viewpoints of the set and to reveal new characters.”

“The director did an incredible job with the physicality of the set. Instead of just letting the scenes take place in front of the backdrop, she truly incorporated the set into the show and used to its fullest potential,” said Lyne.

The middle section of the truck camper, in particular, serves as the place where the story is outlined. This is where the ongoing trial of Robert Pickton plays in the background, and the plot point of a missing Aboriginal mother is revealed.

The play delves into uncomfortable Canadian First Nations topics, and the opening show was dedicated to the missing and murdered indigenous women of Canada. “The set incorporates symbolism from Aboriginal cultures, for example, through the use of ravens, charcoal, and a feather cloth in the set,” said Lyne. “The opening show featured live singing from prominent women’s Aboriginal group, Odaya, and we tried to make it as spiritual and special as possible.”

So spiritual, that the cast and crew will be making an offering to the Trickster, who they think might be interfering with their set and special effects. “Hopefully the offerings of tobacco appease the Trickster, and he will leave us alone and let our special effects work properly!” she says.

Yukonstyle, originally written in French, has been translated and brought to the Talisman stage. Talisman Theatre’s mission is to present contemporary Quebec plays in translation for the English stage, and provides the perfect home for this production of the play. Yukonstyle was written by Sarah Berthiaume, translated by Nadine Desrochers, directed by Geneviève L. Blais. The performers are Julia Borsellino, Jasmine Chen, Chip Chuipka and Justin Manyfingers. The play runs at 8 pm from October 13 to 29, 2016, click here for more information.

Photographer: TROY PAIVA

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