Kelsey Kanatan Wavey is both creator and performer in the Shift Festival presentation of Ōpimātis. Photo by Melissa Morton.
Kelsey Kanatan Wavey is both creator and performer in the Shift Festival presentation of Ōpimātis. Photo by Melissa Morton.

The 2019 Shift Festival gets underway next week with a trio of short original works presented each evening.

Among them is Kelsey Kanatan Wavey’s Ōpimātis. Combining poetry, projection and movement, it is the story of a complicated friendship.

In the second of our Q&As with the artists at this year’s Shift Festival, we find out more from Wavey who both created and performs in Ōpimātis.

This interview has been edited.

Tell us about Ōpimātis. What can audiences expect?

Ōpimātis is the love story of last woman on earth and her companion, a drop of water. It’s a post-apocalyptic sci-fi break-up story inspired by climate change and lack of respect for our elemental relations I witness on a day-to-day basis. The first time it was performed was at Studio 58 for my solo show project in April, but has since undergone some rewrites and development for Shift.

Why present Ōpimātis at the Shift Festival?

I love that Shift’s mantra is “Fierce Truth Telling” and that’s been really inspiring for me to bring to this work. The line up is great this year and I’m so excited to be a part of it.

How is Ōpimātis bringing something new to this story?

It’s been amazing having the Shift team on board with me this time since the last Ōpimātis was 100% produced by me. It’s lovely having director Nyla Carpentier to bounce ideas off of and really direct the movement which is supporting the story much more in this production.

What has been challenging about bringing your script to life?

For a fifteen-minute solo show, we have lots a visual and audio tech elements and movement pieces within it. So that’s been challenging incorporating all of that on a working script. But Shift’s team and my director Nyla Carpentier have been great in coming up with solutions.

Also for me personally, incorporating Cree language into the story has been hard, since most of the fluent speakers in my family are not in BC. However, it’s important for me to include the language for me, to develop my fluency, but also writing wise, the character gains a lot of strength from calling her water love by it’s Cree name. I want to see more language included in future productions for sure.

Who is going to love Ōpimātis?

If you love water and if you care about our planet.

The 12th annual Shift Festival plays The Annex (823 Seymour St, Vancouver) on July 11 through July 13. Visit shifttheatre.ca for tickets and information.