We’re continuing our Festival Artist Spotlight, which highlights some of the incredible people who will be performing this weekend at the 39th Powell Street Festival. Today we’re featuring Mark Ikeda, a Calgary-based actor, dancer, and storyteller. Ikeda will be presenting his one-man show, Sansei: The Storyteller on Saturday, August 1st at 4:00pm at the Firehall Arts Centre. Mark speaks with CTV breaking news producer (and Powell Street Festival board member!) Carly Yoshida-Butryn.

Q: How did you become a professional storyteller? What first attracted you to the art?

A: I started as an improviser, and then an actor, and soon performed and created children’s theatre. I love making up new stories, especially with kids when anything can happen! When someone I admired drew the comparison between the historic shaman (the mystics who go off alone into the woods and meditate on the problems of their society) with present day artists, I was enchanted by that idea and have continued to pursue the artist’s lifestyle.

Q: How would you describe your storytelling style? 

A: I am a physical storyteller – I enjoy telling stories with my movement as much as with my words!

Photo of Mark Ikeda © Marc J Chalifoux Photography, 2013. www.marcjchalifoux.wordpress.com

Q: What inspired your performance for Powell Street? 

A: I’ve always delighted in silver linings, so when my parents told me in high school “If the Japanese Internment never happened, you wouldn’t be alive,” I knew I’d someday want to explore it in more detail.

Q: What attracted you to perform at the festival? 

A: The Powell Street Festival was my first choice to bring this work to Vancouver to the area that was most affected by the Internment, and with my uncle and father (who reside in Richmond and Burnaby) being so integral to the story I knew sharing it in Vancouver would be really meaningful (this will be their first time viewing the work!)

Q: How has your heritage shaped your art and performance style? How has it inspired this performance? 

A: What started out as a personal exploration has turned into a deep appreciation for my heritage. My family (like most Japanese Canadians after the war) weren’t given the chance to show pride in their heritage, so I’ve always felt disconnected from it until now; this performance has ignited my interest in my family history and heritage in a really visceral way.

*          *          *          *

Mark Ikeda performs “Sansei: The Storyteller” at the 39th Powell Street Festival on Saturday, August 1st at 4:00pm at the Firehall Arts Centre. Entry for this event is FREE.