The first time I saw Ivan Coyote perform, I shared a stage with her. It was over a decade ago at Casa del Popolo, a bar frequented by artists and creative types in Montreal’s Mile-End neighbourhood. I was one of the poets to read that night before Ivan headlined with her stories. I’d read Ivan’s work before and heard she was fantastic performer with a knack for telling stories that made you feel like you were sitting around a warm kitchen table while a blizzard rages outside. Makes sense. Ivan was raised in the Yukon. Ivan came on stage and captivated the packed bar with her tales about her family up north, tales about ordinary things like cars and dogs and friends, tales about what it is like to live on the edge of gender. The night was magical; I knew we’d meet again.
The next time I saw Ivan on stage, it was at Toronto’s Buddies in Bad Times Theatre for a reunion show of the performance group Taste This. Ten years prior, the four members – Ivan being one of them – released an incredible collection of fiction and photos published as a book called Boys Like Her: Transfictions. Everyone in my circle was reading it at the time and it was a ground-breaking account of pushing the boundaries of gender. To see the collective reunited on stage was magical. I knew Ivan and I would meet again.
Over the past couple years Ivan has been touring a show with Canadian folk singer Rae Spoon called Gender Failure, an exploration of their failed attempts at fitting into the gender binary and how the gender binary fails all of us. I missed seeing it at the recent Vancouver Push Festival, but I imagine one of these days I’ll see the explosive duo on stage.
Last year, when George Sipos, ArtSpring’s Executive Director, asked me if we should bring Ivan Coyote to ArtSpring as the final show in our 2013-14 season, I immediately said yes. I know that Salt Springers will appreciate the return of this award-winning writer, storyteller, and performer to ArtSpring.
Ivan, we meet again.
Over the years, Ivan has helped me realize the importance of telling stories: that they connect us, captivate us, cultivate understanding, and are a testament to lives lived. Ivan’s stories explore subjects of family, class, gender identity, and social justice, always in the language of a master storyteller. With humour and depth, Ivan skillfully explores what makes us all human.
On Wednesday, April 30th at 7:30 p.m. Ivan Coyote will be at ArtSpring telling stories to the guitar accompaniment of her long-time collaborator Jon Wood. I hope you’ll take the time to come and listen to her wonderful stories. They will certainly move you as they have me.
Tickets are available at the ArtSpring Box Office in person, or by calling 537-2102 or online. $23 Adults; $5 Youth.
(Article written by ArtSpring's Marketing Manager, Cat Paquette)