(Photo by Jennifer Sparrowhawk, Intro by Jennifer Dawn Bishop)
Aaron Shingoose goes by many others names depending on the people that are lucky enough to meet him. For some, he is known as “Lord of Darkness” —I’m not kidding we had that on our business cards. Until they go up and meet Aaron, some people are actually afraid to approach him. If some humans weren’t such pansies or scared, they would realize that Aaron is one hell of a wicked awesome individual.
For me, Aaron is not only my friend and roommate, he is family and my walking Wikipedia. He is insightful, smart, clever, and unique. Even these words don’t do him justice. When he congratulates you with a hug or a pat on the back, feel honored because he doesn’t do that for everyone. He has a different way of being an affectionate, caring person.
Aaron is so multi-talented it’s not funny. He is a wonderful stage actor that has worked with Tantoo Cardinal, Lorne Cardinal, and many more theatre professionals. He has worked with theatre companies here, as well as in Toronto. Aaron has evolved from Actor to Stage Management (which he is also f***ing great at). If you give something to Aaron, anything, he’ll put his All into it. When he’s not off being a Stage Manager (or secret playwright) Aaron loves going to the comic store, building up his collectibles, and helping me scare the crap out of our landlord and our friends.
Believe me when I say that this is only a portion of Aaron. There is so much more I could say about him, but it is way more fun and interesting if you get to know him yourself —If you’re brave.
KC: What kinds of projects are you involved with right now?
I will soon be involved with a couple of shows through the Gordon Tootoosis Nīkānīwin Theatre. One is about bullying and the other about road safety. After that I’m going in as the second half of the Stage Management team for Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan this summer.
As a personal project, I’m working on writing a play based on the adventures of a gay Native American crime fighting hero with superpowers. It is something that, to my knowledge, does not really exist. I think it needs to exist not only for gay people, but for gay people of colour who are often underrepresented within gay culture in the media. It is also a merging of both my loves: theatre and comic books.
KC: What’s your day job? What do you like about it? What’s challenging?
I have not had a “day job” in over 5 years now. I’ve been fully employed by theatre projects, which is kind of living the dream for most people except it also means my income is not always steady. I’ve had consistent work mainly because I’ve gone into Stage Management.
As an actor, being Native sometimes worked to my detriment because I’d only ever have people forward me audition notices if the role was specifically for a Native male age 20-30. It was never, “oh I saw you in this show, and I think you’d be great for this upcoming role in a show, please audition”. I suppose having an intimidating “goth” look hasn’t helped. I’ve heard stories years later of people who were scared shitless of me in the audition room –people I was working with and those watching the audition.
Being in a more behind the scenes job (as Stage Manager) means my appearance and gender are no longer things to consider, it’s just about my ability to do the job. And from what I’m told, I’m good at it. Though as of late, I’ve been considering changing my focus, be it to other areas of theatre, or perhaps not in theatre.
KC: What’s important to you?
Supporting my fellow artists when I can afford it, or have the time, cause you know what, sometimes my show runs at the same time as your show, and usually we all have the exact same day off.
Something that is really important to me beyond theatre, are comic books and superheroes. Mainly because they are such a great medium to showcase ideas, feelings, and societal ideals in a creative way. My favourites are Wonder Woman, Catwoman, and Poison Ivy. They were my first introductions to animal rights, environmentalism, and gender equality. Lately, I’ve also come to appreciate them as forms that celebrate femininity. Those characters didn’t have to trade their femininity for the tomboy “one of the guys” treatment that most strong women in media tend to get. Their writers have tried to keep that (femininity) a strong part of their characters.
Comics have also been great because they’ve introduced so many other concepts that have become important to me – like facing racism, with an example being American society reacting negatively to Jon Stewart the Green Lantern for being a black man with the incredible powers of a Green Lantern. Despite all, he retains nothing but love, so much so that he was actually inducted into the Star Sapphires (which is like the Green Lanterns, but instead of willpower being the source of their power, it’s love) which is amazing because it has been primarily comprised of females until now.
There is just so much positivity in comic books. However, there are also ugly facets to it. Sometimes there are fans or the odd creator who is very backwater in their views, or sometimes very lazy in their writing. But, it’s mostly had a constructive advancement over the years and I’m quite glad I’m investing my interest in the industry.
KC: What do you like most / least about Saskatoon?
What I like most is definitely how Saskatoon’s artistic community has evolved over the past few years, and how there are more open-minded crowds. Another thing I like about Saskatoon is the green around it, all the parks, the beautiful river valley. Whenever I see a river anywhere I go, I think of home.
What I probably like least about Saskatoon, is having to see the ugly face of the close-minded. I’m very glad that some of my friends have never had to deal with systemic racism, but sadly that it not always the case for me, I get nothing but stares and glares in some areas of the city. It’s even more noticeable in smaller towns. Another ugly side I have to deal with is people staring at how I’m dressed, sometimes being told to “smile” or something similar by passers by, and having people afraid of me because of how I’m dressed.
KC: What is your impression of Regina?
In my mind Regina has some growing to do, much like Saskatoon does. But, it has grown leaps and bounds since I was a teenager, and I really hope it keeps growing positively like that.
KC: How do you survive winters here?
Generally, really keeping in mind how good the snow is for plants during the spring and summer. I really wish I could say it was having someone to snuggle with to keep warm, but I have to supply my own warmth. Sometimes, it’s a good comic book keeping my mind off of just how cold or icy it can be outside.
KC: (From the Proust questionnaire) What is your motto?
I’m going to use a Wonder Woman quote here because it sums up my “motto to life.”
A little boy is being teased for liking Wonder Woman, with his peers saying it’s ‘girl stuff’. She shows up, and asks “What is wrong with ‘girl stuff’?” the boys respond saying boys should like boy stuff. So she turns to the young boy who was being teased, snaps off a piece of the lasso of truth and says: “Next time anyone says you can’t like something, put this in their hand and ask again. Because the truth is; being true to yourself is never wrong.”