This Land Floods kicks-off Interlake Chautauqua Tour

This Land Floods, The Interlake ChautauquaFundraiser was held at WECC in Winnipeg with members from the Interlake in the audience on June 20. Pictured: Sol James and Daniel Peloquin-Hopfner perform onstage with fiddling sensation Brad Moggie on June 20. Photo by Twyla Siple / Interlake Publishing

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Musical, visual, dance, theatrical, video and spoken word artists are being collected to tour the Interlake this fall with Manitoba Theatre Projects Interlake Chautauqua Tour.

In October, TPM will set out on a one-month expedition into Manitoba’s Interlake region. One week residencies will take place in each of the following towns and surrounding municipalities: Steep Rock, Eriksdale, Arborg and Teulon.

It plans to bring its caravan of artists, musicians, writers and performers to collaborate with Interlake residents on workshops, cabarets, creative projects, performances and more.

“We anticipate this project will result in a flood of new work in the province that will open up new channels for performance, storytelling and cultural creation,” Artistic Director Ardith Boxall told the crowd at their fundraiser, This Land Floods, on June 20 in Winnipeg at the West End Cultural Centre.

Merle Klein, Patsy Klein, Linda Johnson and Leila Alijani travelled all the way from Ashern to support the fundraiser, and Larry Speiss drove down from Arborg to be in the audience, according to Andrea Sartison, Associate Artistic Director of MTP.

Interlake artists donated interesting prizes for their silent auction portion of the fundraiser, including a one-of-a-kind watercolour stitched portrait by Heidi Hunter, a Gimli Getaway package at the Lakeview Gimli resort and a three-hour art-cruise with artist and certified captain Gayle Halliwell of Gimli in Winnipeg Beach.

A Song for John Ramsay.was created by Andy Blicq and based on the musical talents of Juno award-winning William Prince, this special musical documentary is based upon the story of an Indigenous man who befriended and assisted the Icelanders that arrived on the West Shore of Lake Winnipeg in the 1870s and suffered tremendous loss alongside them in a small-pox epidemic. The film is expected to be shown at the Gimli Film Festival this year and the song has become the centrepiece of a new exhibit in the New Iceland Heritage Museum in Gimli, according to Blicq.

Along with indigenous storyteller and poet Duncan Mercredi of Grand Rapids, spoken word artist Darla Contois of Misipawistik Cree Nation, theatrical performers Emily Barker and Tanner Manson, Justin Fry and Sarah Flynn, Chris Sousa and Evan Martin, and musical performers Sol James, Daniel Peloquin-Hopfner of Sainte-Rose-Du-Lac, and fiddle player Brad Moggie of St. Ambroise rounded out the show with their dynamic talents.

“Our fundraiser was very successful in that we were able to raise some money for the tour,” Sartison told The Interlake Spectator.

She explained that TPM is funded by all three levels of government, private donations and sponsorships. She said that MTP is committing a significant amount of its annual budget towards the project so that it can cover all of the costs of the show.

“We want the programming to be free for the communities that we visit. We aren’t about making money on this,” Sartison explained.

What is a Chautauqua?
According to Boxall’s introductory speech, Chautauquas were travelling shows and local assemblies from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries that provided popular education combined with entertainment in the form of lectures, concerts and plays.

The Chautauqua Interlake Community Tour aims to reach out and engage each community it visits, uniquely. Working on a level of engagement that is different from traditional touring, their goal is to broaden the scope of Manitoba theatre to include new voices, stories and histories.

“We are working with the communities to connect us with artists and performers,” Sartison explained, saying there won’t be any auditions.

“Anyone who wants to be involved will be welcome,” Sartison said.

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