Another collaboration with the Borderless Art Movement! – also known as BAM! – led to the story/paint/song production of a true Northern legend – the Mad Trapper of Rat River. Well-known in the NWT and Yukon, the story tells of the mysterious trapper Albert Johnson, RCMP officers from the 1930’s, and WW1 fighter pilot Wop May, as well as fantastical dancing caribou. I wrote the score for this multi-disciplinary performance, and had the pleasure of performing it at the Atlin Arts and Music Festival as well as Yellowknife’s Folk on the Rocks. Visual designs by Jen Walden blew audiences away once again as three painting panels flipped, rotated and moved across the stage – all the while being filled with beautiful images – and all live! Above – Joel Maillet, playing an RCMP officer, is shot by the Mad Trapper.
Video above – clips from the Yellowknife and Atlin performances. Below left – Joel and Myka Jones dance the “Caribou Waltz” to hide the Mad Trapper’s tracks. Below Right – painters begin to fill the canvas. Photo credit for top three: Markham Breitbach.
The trip to Atlin was slightly harrowing – our colourful show opened the whole festival, and the majority of our supplies and costumes did not follow our Yellowknife-Edmonton-Vancouver-Whitehorse-Atlin route in sync with the performers. In the nick of time it all made it to the mountain-lake town, and the adrenaline carried us through.
Below Left – Eli Purchase – the Mad Trapper of Rat River, Jen Walden – visual design, Rae Braden and Myka Jones – painters
Below Right – Jonathan Churcher – sax, guitar, voice, harmonica; Carmen Braden – composer, piano, voice, kazoo; Caleb Harrison- percussion, voice.
Visual and artistic direction by Jen Walden
Music composition and direction by Carmen Braden
Musicians: Caleb Harrison, Jonathan Churcher and Carmen Braden
Actors/painters: Eli Purchase, Joel Maillet, Tracy Breitbach, Terry Pamplin, Jazmine Gardener and Myka Jones.
This project was supported by the NWT Arts Council.
Left: score excerpt from the “Caribou Waltz”