Interior artists present Sci-Fi Indigenous comedy production at UAF

Published: Apr. 2, 2023 at 1:45 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - The University of Alaska’s Troth Yeddha Campus has prepared a unique work of performance art that is scheduled to run March 31 to April 2 at the Salisbury Lab Theatre.

The production, titled Tumyaraq-qaa, is billed as a science fiction Indigenous comedy. It tells the story of a spaceship and its unlikely crew uncoupling from the earth.

Kavelina Torres explained, “They’ve been tasked by the elders to take circumpolar north Indigenous peoples, Canada, Greenland, Siberia, to another planet, to go in search of another house.”

“I think it’s very different than what’s been out there so far, and it’s exciting,” said actor Misty Nickoli.

For one weekend, audiences are able to attend a live filming of half the production. According to Torres, “We pre-recorded a lot of stuff last semester, so since August we’ve been filming, and now we’re doing the component that the audience sees, that’s on the soundstage.”

The show incorporates words and phrases from a variety of Indigenous languages. “I think this play is written for indigenous people to remind them that we have the capacity to do all the things that everyone else is doing, and we have been doing those things. We are scientists. We are explorers,” said Nickoli, who plays Captain Ellalluk.

While its premise has been germinating for years, the show officially began production at the beginning of this school year. Since then, actors, filmmakers and artists have been working for months to bring the performance to life.

“It’s just time to go rehearse, and laugh and we cut up and are goofy, and it brings so much joy,” Nickoli explained.

In addition to being entertainment, the show is designed to create more representation for the Alaska Native community. Torres said, “We need people who can be behind the camera, people who can be in front of the camera, people who can be on stage that are Alaska Native, so they can go out into the world and see us, present us as real people who are still alive and still doing the thing.”

More information about the show can be found here.