(photo: Julia Cook)

The experience

Talking with members of the Young Company

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The TD Young Company is back for another year at the Charlottetown Festival and its production of Aqsarniit with some new and former company members.

“Aqsarniit” is the Inuktitut word used to describe the northern lights. The high-energy musical re-examines Canada’s past and weaves together different stories to create a multi-faceted narrative. Twelve young artists from across Canada share their life experiences Monday to Saturday at noon in a free performance.

This is Wahsonti:io Kirby’s second year with the Young Company. She’s going into her third year at the National Theatre School of Canada and said she experience at the Centre has been life-changing. “This is the first show I’ve worked on that has had my own language being spoken on stage,” she said. “Just being able to share my life experiences with a bunch of people who maybe haven’t heard stories life mine before was really great.”

Kirby grew up on a small reserve outside of Montreal and this is her chance to share Indigenous stories with other people, as well as other marginalized voices. “It’s important for people who’ve only heard a certain story for such a long period of time to have their world expanded to include all of these different voices that they might not have considered before. To have a shared empathy and to heal with each other and just coexist with each other.”

For Zach Colangelo, it’s their first summer with the Young Company. The Sheridan grad heard about the program from other classmates, who spoke highly about it as a learning experience. Colangelo identifies with the LGBTQIA+ community and it was important that that national narrative was added to this production. “There’s so much that people don’t know that queer individuals are going through, so I made it my personal missional that there was space for that,” they added. “Luckily, I was given that space and it is a joy to say those words every day and have people respond and hear it.”