Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Iqaluit August 26, 2016 - 8:30 am

Free singing, acting workshop returns to Nunavut capital

"You get to bring emotions up to the forefront, real or imagined, while in a safe place”

THOMAS ROHNER
Opera singer and music teacher Gwenna Fairchild-Taylor will be holding a two-week acting/singing workshop in Iqaluit for residents of all ages, starting next week. (HANDOUT PHOTO)
Opera singer and music teacher Gwenna Fairchild-Taylor will be holding a two-week acting/singing workshop in Iqaluit for residents of all ages, starting next week. (HANDOUT PHOTO)
Playwright David Nugent will be helping Gwenna Fairchild-Taylor deliver free acting and singing workshops in Iqaluit next week. (HANDOUT PHOTO)
Playwright David Nugent will be helping Gwenna Fairchild-Taylor deliver free acting and singing workshops in Iqaluit next week. (HANDOUT PHOTO)

Sometimes, the best learning happens when you don’t realize you’re learning — you’re too busy having fun and being creative.

That’s the philosophy of opera singer and music teacher Gwenna Fairchild-Taylor who will bring back a popular music and acting workshop to Iqaluit next week for the second time.

That workshop gets underway Aug. 29 and culminates in a single performance at Inuksuk High School Sept. 11.

But this year, Fairchild-Taylor is teaming up with playwright David Nugent to facilitate a bigger, more ambitious theatrical collaboration between Iqaluit residents of all ages.

“The more skills we can teach people that enable them to share in a constructive way what is going on inside their head, the better, right?” Fairchild-Taylor said.

“Art is a really great thing because you get to bring emotions up to the forefront, real or imagined, while in a safe place.”

And that helps you communicate better in tough everyday situations, the music teacher said.

Last year, Fairchild-Taylor ran the workshop for about a dozen Iqaluit residents on her own.

This year the workshop, which she planned together with Nugent, already has more than 40 registered participants.

“We have a lot of the same kids who participated last year returning this year, so I hope that means we did something right,” Fairchild-Taylor said.

Participants will be divided into three age categories: five- to nine-year-olds, nine- to 13-year-olds, and teens and adults.

Those groups will learn acting, music and playwriting skills three evenings per week for two weeks.

Then, the two younger age groups will collaborate on an original theatrical script, and the older age group will produce its own script.

An original musical arrangement, yet to be determined, will tie those two scripts together for the final performance.

For Nugent, who lived in Iqaluit for a summer a few years ago as a summer law student, the workshop provides everyone involved an opportunity to learn cross-cultural storytelling skills.

“There’s an incredibly rich history of storytelling [in Nunavut] so I’m very interested in collaborating and broadening my own horizons too,” Nugent said from his Ottawa home Aug. 23.

Nugent has taught play-writing at the college and high school level, and has worked with production companies in Stratford, Ont., and New York City.

But the collaboration in Iqaluit with such a large group of diverse ages is a teaching and creative challenge Nugent said he hasn’t yet faced.

“Mostly, though, I’m just excited. I loved it up in Iqaluit last time I was there — I loved the land, the people. It’s an amazing place.”

And, Fairchild-Taylor said, everyone is bound to learn a lot about communication.

“When you’re acting or singing, you have to put yourself in those characters’ shoes. So now you have all these tools in terms of recognizing what someone might be feeling… You’re grasping all these skills without knowing it.”

While registration for the two younger age groups is full, Fairchild-Taylor said she has started a wait-list for people to join in case of cancellations.

The oldest age group still has space available.

To register for free, or for more information, you can contact Fairchild-Taylor at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

The timing of the Sept. 11 performance at Inuksuk High School — which will be free — has yet to be determined. 

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