Buddies in Bad Times is a queer performance venue in downtown Toronto Canada. The Artistic Director is performer and folk musician Evalyn Parry. She has teamed up with Kalaallit (Greenlandic Inuk) performance artist Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory to present Kiinalik: These Sharp Tools. The performance looks at the differences between the North and South of Canada. Kiinalik investigates how colonialism has affected indigenous populations and parallels are drawn with climate change and queer identity.
Kiinalik: These Sharp Tools begins with the performers taking to the stage and directly addressing the audience. They wish to highlight the traditional land on which the show was developed and to pay respect to the elders within this community. This welcoming and peaceful tone continues through the first hour of the show, even though some of the topics are grand and important in nature. Kiinalik: These Sharp Tools combines folk music, drama, performance art and video projections. It is truly a multimedia performance with live music (with the assistance of Cris Derksen) adding to the drama. The story focuses on a trip that the performers took to the north of Canada. Here they discovered local stories and traditions and witnessed the full effect of climate change.
After about an hour the show stops and the audience is instructed to have a conversation amongst ourselves about our relationship with The North. Although this conversation adds to the laid back nature of the performance, it also breaks up the flow of the narrative and feels a little jarring. After this short break the tone of Kiinalik changes. We see a physical performance from Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory that draws on tradition and involves face paint and a lot of attitude.
It is a full-on physical and mental transformation that unfortunately lasts a bit too long. The themes of the body and sexuality could have been just as powerful if this segment didn’t last a full 20 minutes. However, it is a breathless segment that leaves the audience awestruck in the vivacity and vigour.
Kiinalik: These Sharp Tools is a forceful performance that pulls a lot of themes and topics together. The performers give everything and the audience feels fully involved in the narrative and this makes us question our own relationship to the land we live on.