Play in Inuktitut targets kids and parents who booze

Teens act out against family alcohol abuse


Abbie Ootova, 14, is tired of watching kids as young as 13 getting drunk with their parents.

She and 10 other teens from Pond Inlet performed a play last Friday night that called on residents to take a stand against kids and adults drinking to excess.

The half-hour play started off being about the environment, said the play's co-director Christopher Morris.

But he said the young actors decided the play should deal with the havoc that alcohol can cause within a family.

"They just wanted to talk about booze," Morris said.

The actors, students from Grade 7 to 12, came up with a plot and mapped out the dialogue in Inuktitut, with help from Morris and co-director, Sheena Akoomalik.

"It's all improvised. It was very loose. There were no lines written down. It was always changing a bit, so I find that very exciting," Morris said.

All the young actors performed in every scene, or stood in for stage props, like a truck.

Their play follows a teenaged girl who is a good student and a role model for other youth.

"She's a good person but when her dad gets drunk, she gets angry," Ootova said in a telephone interview from Pond Inlet. "It's just like my life."

The lead character's name? Akittuq Kayak – which also happens to be Ootova's middle name.

Akittuq wins $50 in an academic competition in school and her father promises to take her seal hunting as a reward.

Akittuq's father – played by Jordan Kayak – is also a role model in the community, a person whom many look up to.

The two promise each other that they won't drink or smoke after they see an intoxicated mother scolding her child for smoking.

But the night before they're supposed to go seal hunting, the father goes out, gets drunk and doesn't come home. Akittuq finds her father drunk, and it devastates her.

When her father comes home, very late the next morning, way past the time when they were supposed to go hunting, she confronts him about his drinking.

At first, he lies about his drinking, then he confesses. He promises not to drink again, and that they'll go hunting next week. But he drinks again, and they don't go hunting.

Akittuq also discovers that he stole her $50 and lost it gambling.

She then starts drinking and smoking and is caught by her father. An argument follows, in which the two both blame each other.

Her father then starts drinking heavily in the house. She begs him to stop. He doesn't.

At the end of the play, the actors join hands and telling the audience how they feel when they see adults drinking.

Last Friday's play is the second public performance by youth in Pond Inlet this year.

Thanks to a grant from Nunavut's department of culture, language, elders and youth, Pond Inlet's new theatre company, called Tununiq Arqsaniit, plans to mount two productions a year.

In March, adult actors will perform an adaptation of the prize-winning book Saqiyuq, published in 1999, about three generations of women in Pond Inlet.

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