While this won’t be Evalyn Parry’s first trip north, it will be the most intrepid.
“We’re just really excited to be there,” said the Toronto-based artist about her upcoming performances in the NWT and specifically Hay River. “It’s the most adventurous show we’ve done yet, and making everything fit onto one plane has been a challenge.”
Parry is the writer and performer of SPIN, a multi-media show that follows the rise of the women’s suffrage movement, as well as that of advertising, through the theme of a bicycle.
Her own love of bicycling, and particular attachment to her bike and the freedom from Toronto’s traffic gridlock, inspired her to write. She said the project grew from there.
“I’m a passionate urban cyclist myself,” she said, adding that, in speaking to others who brave the streets on two wheels and pedals, she started to notice some commonalities. “We all seem to share that feeling of freedom in riding our bicycles. When I started researching it, I found that bicycles were tied to the women’s emancipation movement, as well, and it took off from there.”
The show is loosely based on the journey of Annie Londonderry, the first woman to ride around the world on a bike in the 1890s. Parry said the deeper she delved into the woman’s story, the more she was captivated by how her travels encompassed all that Parry was trying to convey.
“I began to research it, and I found this treasure trove. Londonderry helped fund her trip by selling advertising on her clothes and on her bike,” she said. “That captured the other theme, spin, in which I wanted to talk about how advertising and the media play such a big role in our lives.”
SPIN incorporates bits of poetry, theatre, music – including some made on a bicycle – and projection to engage audiences. Parry said it’s an unusual show in that it integrates so many different components, but that she was looking forward to presenting it to residents of Hay River.
“I’m interested to see how it goes in a place where bike culture is so different,” she said, alluding to the climate and general ease of driving around as reasons for that disparity. “I want to see how it lands and how people connect.”
Marie Coderre, the executive director for the Northern Arts and Cultural Centre (NACC), will also be in Hay River on Oct. 18 to see the show live at the Riverview Cineplex. She said she expects it to hit home with a wide variety of people.
“SPIN has something for everyone,” she said. “For those who like history, for those who like art, for those who like multi-media; it’s all there.”
Coderre’s main responsibility is recruiting and co-ordinating artists to tour the Northwest Territories, and she said that, in her experience, multi-media shows tend to be technology-heavy and difficult to move around. SPIN, however, is a portable show and will be stopping in Inuvik, Yellowknife, Fort Simpson and Norman Wells, in addition to Hay River.
“This show is different,” said Coderre. “You can really screw up when you go down all those different avenues, but this show is brilliant.”
Tickets are available online at the NACC website or at the door on Oct. 18.
— Sarah Ladik