A famed bluesman, storytellers, a classical ensemble and children’s performers make up the eclectic mix of artists who will visit Hay River as part of the annual tour of communities by the Northern Arts and Cultural Centre, better known as NACC.
The lineup of performers to visit the communities, along with Yellowknife, was announced online on Aug. 14.
“We try to cover all the regions. So it’s a very unique concept in Canada having this tour in place as a theatre. We’re very proud of it,” said Marie Coderre, executive and artistic director of NACC, adding that the tours began about 10 years ago with Hay River and Inuvik.
Since then, Norman Wells, Fort Smith and Fort Simpson have been added to the tour.
This 31st season of performances from NACC is being called Reaching New Latitudes.
First up in Hay River for the coming performance season will be the Ko K’e Storytelling Festival, a celebration of strong indigenous women, on Sept. 14. The storytellers will include Moe Clark, Thelma Cheechoo and Deneze Nakehk’o, along with a storyteller from the community.
Later in September, the Juno-winning Canadian baroque musicians Ensemble Caprice will be visiting on Sept. 25 as part of the International Lute Festival. The Montreal-based performers have a discography of more than 20 albums, and have toured extensively in North America, Europe and Asia.
Ensemble Caprice is a very powerful group, said Coderre, adding that they will be performing in the good acoustics of Our Lady of Assumption Roman Catholic Church. “You guys are definitely in for a blast there,” she said.
On Oct. 16, Hay River will get a taste of the genuine blues with a performance by Guy Davis, a New York-based performer who has been acclaimed by many as one of the most important blues artists of his time.
Coderre expects that performance will be welcomed in Hay River, saying, “I think we’re going to have a few people going to this show, for sure.”
The opening act for Davis will be Grey Gritt, a folk and blues performer from Yellowknife.
Finally on Feb. 1, the Dufflebag Theatre – as part of the Children’s Festival of Silliness – will present its version of The Three Musketeers. The theatre from London, Ont., invites members of the audience into the show to play the main parts.
Coderre said this will be the first year that the children’s festival will be touring and visiting Hay River.
“So I’m really looking forward to see the reaction of the families, because Hay River is definitely a family-oriented community,” she said.
Coderre explained who goes where depends on a combination of timing, cost and the previous response to certain types of performers in a community.
“This year, I was curious to test the children’s festival in Hay River and see what would be the reaction. So it’s the first time. We will tell how it goes,” she said, adding that it might return in coming seasons if all goes well. “We see what works, what doesn’t work, and we adjust it.”
NACC tries to bring at least four shows each year to the communities on its circuit outside of Yellowknife, while all performers appear in the capital city.
In Hay River, there is a group of people who attend most of the performances.
That includes Marilyn Barnes, who describes herself as a strong supporter of the NACC performances.
“I think it’s extremely important to our community because we don’t get very much exposure to the arts,” she said.
For the upcoming shows, Barnes said she will be very interested in seeing the performance of Guy Davis.