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TOM PATTERSON THEATRE CANOPY
July 23 – August 21
Modern

THE REZ SISTERS

By Tomson Highway
Directed by Jessica Carmichael

WIN OR LOSE, THE GAME WILL CHANGE THEIR LIVES

They have their dreams and their difficulties, these seven women. One yearns for a singing career; another for white porcelain toilet. One grieves for her lover, killed in a motorcycle accident; another harbours the memory of a horrific sexual assault. The cancer that afflicts one of them is not the only malignancy they confront.

But one dream they hold in common is that of winning “the biggest bingo in the world” – and one day, accompanied by the transformative spirit guide Nanabush, they leave their Manitoulin Island reserve and set out for Toronto to do just that.

Ribald, harrowing and mystical, this seminal work of Indigenous drama celebrates the spirit of resilience and the powerful beauty these women bring to the tough world in which they live.

Runtime: One hour and 45 minutes no intermission.

House Program: The Rez Sisters

$5 from each ticket sold for The Rez Sisters will be donated to Native Women’s Association of Canada in support of justice for missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.






Audience Advisory »


Production support is generously provided by Karon C. Bales & Charles E. Beall and by M. Fainer.


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CAST & CREATIVE

    Jani Lauzon
    Pelajia Patchnose
    2021: Pelajia Patchnose in The Rez Sisters. Third season. Stratford: Huumittuq/Panik/Marianne in The Breathing Hole. Elsewhere: Trebonius/Cato in Julius Caesar (Groundling/Crow's); Cordelia/Fool in King Lear (NAC); Elder in Apocalypsis (Luminato); Neighbour/Servant in Blood Wedding (Modern Times/Aluna Theatre); Shylock in The Merchant of Venice (SITR). Film/TV: Guest appearances: Saving Hope, Hard Rock Medical, Destiny Ridge, Conspiracy of Silence. Puppeteer: Grannie on Mr. Dressup, Pa Foley on Big Comfy Couch, Seeka on Wumpa's World. Awards: Gemini Award for Wumpa's World, Best Actress, Doris in Windigo Tale, American Indian Film Festival and Dreamspeakers Film Festival, ACTRA Toronto Award of Excellence. Online: janilauzon.com; papercanoeprojects.com; @janilauzon. Et cetera: Her company, Paper Canoe Projects, produces her original work including A Side of Dreams, I Call myself Princess and Prophecy Fog. Jani is the Associate Director of English Acting at the National Theatre School.
    Brefny Caribou
    Zhaboonigan Peterson

    2021: Zhaboonigan Peterson in The Rez Sisters. Second season. Brefny is a Cree/Irish-settler performer and creator from Toronto. She holds an MFA in Acting from York University. With curiosity, patience and lots of humour, Brefny focuses her attention on works surrounding identity and decolonization, striving to evolve her artistic practice on the regular. She has had the privilege of working across the country with many notable companies and collectives including Theatre Kingston, Urban Ink and Caravan Farm Theatre. Brefny is also a co-creator of The Solitudes (Aluna Theatre/Nightwood Theatre), a collective-creation piece centred around the histories of eight ensemble members, inspired by the world of One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez, which had its world première in January 2020. Most recently, Brefny participated in Aluna Theatre's Winter Artist Residency, and she is currently a part of Native Earth Performing Arts' Animikiig Creators Unit.

    Lisa Cromarty
    Marie-Adele Starblanket

    2021: Marie-Adele Starblanket in The Rez Sisters. Fourth season. Acting: The Unnatural and Accidental Women (National Arts Centre); Moose on the Loose (Sudbury Theatre Centre); An Honour Story (The Debajehmujig Theatre Company). Film/TV: Wild Indian (30WEST), Unsettled (APTN), Antlers (Fox Pictures), Burden of Truth (CBC), The Silencing (Anova Pictures), Indian Horse (Screen Siren Productions), Wave a Red Flag (National Film Board).

    Christine Frederick
    Veronique St. Pierre
    2021: Veronique St. Pierre in The Rez Sisters. Stratford debut. Elsewhere: Momma Bear in Bears, Kokum, Grandmother Moon in Minosis Gathers Hope (Dreamspeakers and Punctuate! Theatre); 9 Parts of Desire (Maggie Tree); The Rez Sisters (Old Earth Productions); Sound & Fury's Macbeth; Flint & Feather: Story of Tekahionwake E. Pauline Johnson (Edmonton Fringe). Film/TV: The Sashmaker; White Face; The Louder Silence; A Frosty Affair; It's Not My Fault and I Don't Care Anyway; APTN's Blackstone and Mixed Blessings. Training: University of Alberta, Banff Centre for the Arts and University for Peace (Costa Rica). Awards: 2007 Esquao Award in Arts; 2016 Mayor's Award for Excellence in Artistic Leadership. Et cetera: Executive Director of Dreamspeakers (Film Fest and Rubaboo), first Indigenous Associate Artist of the Citadel Theatre, Iniw River Lot 11 Indigenous Art Park Committee, National Arts Centre's Creation Fund.
    Nicole Joy-Fraser
    Annie Cook

    2021: Annie Cook in The Rez Sisters. Second season. Regional: Blyth Festival, Carousel Players, Charlottetown Festival, Native Earth Performing Arts, Unsettled Scores, Red Sky Performance, Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Essential Collective Theatre, Soundstreams, Young People's Theatre, Nightwood Theatre, Magnus Theatre, Persephone Theatre, Jumblies Theatre. Elsewhere: Disney's Beauty and the Beast (UK tour/Athens, Greece), Jerry Springer: The Opera (award-winning West End production), Mamma Mia! (original Toronto cast/US tour). Film/TV: Clarice (CBS), Detention Adventure, Baroness von Sketch Show (CBC), Québexit (Telefilm). Audio Dramas: Seven Stories (Tarragon), You Can't Get There From Here (Factory). Recordings: The Magic of Christmas with John Rutter and the Toronto Mendelssohn Youth Choir (CBC). Training: The Actor's Centre (London, UK), Randolph Academy. Awards: 2020 Dora Mavor Moore for Outstanding Ensemble (Two Odysseys). Et cetera: Nicole dedicates this season to her supportive family, friends and community.

    Kathleen MacLean
    Emily Dictionary

    2021: Emily Dictionary in The Rez Sisters. Second season. Elsewhere: Marie-Angelique in Women of the Fur Trade (Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre); #7 in The Wolves (Live Five Saskatoon); Head Full of Lice in The Third Colour (Prairie Theatre Exchange); Thanadelthur in Torn Through Time (Manitoba Theatre for Young People). Other: Pimootayowin Indigenous Playwright Circle (Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre). Training: National Theatre School of Canada. Online: Instagram @katmaclean. Et cetera: Kinanâskomitin to my family and those who worked so hard so that I may stand on their shoulders.

    Tracey Nepinak
    Philomena Moosetail

    2021: Philomena Moosetail in The Rez Sisters. Stratford debut. Tracey Nepinak came full-circle in Prairie Theatre Exchange's 2019 world première of The Third Colour by Ian Ross. Tracey has been fortunate to have a long, satisfying career in mainstream theatre, primarily because of Ian Ross's fareWel, which also premièred at PTE in 1997. Some of Tracey's most recent work: Punctuate! Theatre's Bears by Matthew Mackenzie (Belfry/Factory theatres); Tara Began's Honour Beat (Theatre Calgary); Patrick Friesen's A Short History of Crazy Bone (Theatre Projects Manitoba).

    Zach Running Coyote
    Nanabush
    2021: Nanabush in The Rez Sisters. Stratford debut. Zach Running Coyote (he/him) is an interdisciplinary storyteller and theatre maker. Adopted at six months old, with Mi'gmaq and settler ancestors, Zach's work focuses on stories for the displaced and disenfranchised, the marginalized and oppressed, as he continues his own search for community, healing and the unwinding of generational trauma. Stratford: Workshop of Pawâkan Macbeth. Elsewhere: Snowblind (Lunchbox Theatre/Making Treaty 7), Bright Star (Rosebud Theatre), Cariboo Magi (Far From the Tree Productions), Kohkum & me (self-produced). Awards: RBC Emerging Playwright Award, Tarragon Theatre.
    Jonathan Fisher
    Standby
    2021: Standby in The Rez Sisters. Stratford debut. Jonathan Fisher is Anishnabe from the Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory on Manitoulin Island, Ontario. Selected credits: Almighty Voice and His Wife (Native Earth Performing Arts); Dry Lips Oughta Move to Kapuskasing (Red Roots Theatre); fareWel (Prairie Theatre Exchange); A Trickster's Tale (Theatre Direct); New France (VideoCabaret); Raven Stole The Sun (Red Sky Performance); Copper Thunderbird (National Arts Centre); Stretching Hide (Theatre Projects Manitoba); Tales of an Urban Indian (Talk Is Free Theatre); 400 Kilometers (Lighthouse Theatre); Medicine Boy (Anishnabe Theatre Performance); Night (Human Cargo); The Hours That Remain (Magnus Theatre); Elle (Theatre Passe Muraille); The Berlin Blues, Ipperwash (Blyth Festival); Reckoning (Article 11); Home Is A Beautiful Word (Persephone Theatre); Weaving Reconciliation: Our Way (Vancouver Moving Theatre Company); The Mush Hole (Kaha:wai Dance Theatre).
    Irene Poole
    Standby
    2021: Standby in The Rez Sisters. Eighth season. Stratford: Queen Katherine in Henry VIII, Catalina in Mother's Daughter, Jean Louise Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird, Cassius in Julius Caesar, Breath of Kings, Kate in The Little Years, Katherina in The Taming of the Shrew, Olga in Three Sisters. Elsewhere:Happy Place, The Gigli Concert (Soulpepper); How Do I Love Thee? (Canadian Rep); The Bakelite Masterpiece, The Little Years (Tarragon Theatre); Manon, Sandra and the Virgin Mary (Buddies in Bad Times); Escape from Happiness, Better Living, The Glace Bay Miners' Museum (Factory Theatre); Age of Arousal (ATP). Film/TV:Frankie Drake (CBC), Indian Horse (Elevation Pictures), Cardinal, Reign, Murdoch Mysteries, Republic of Doyle, Carrie (MGM), Breakout Kings. Awards: Dora Awards for The Little Years, The Last Days of Judas Iscariot, The Leisure Society; nominations for How Do I Love Thee? and Happy Place.
    Tomson Highway
    Playwright

    Playwright of The Rez Sisters

    Tomson Highway was born in a snowbank on the Manitoba/Nunavut border to a family of nomadic caribou hunters. He was raised off-reserve, in the spectacularly beautiful natural landscape that is Canada's sub-Arctic. He had the great privilege of growing up in two languages, neither of which was French or English but Cree, his mother tongue, and Dene, the language of the neighbouring "nation," a people with whom they roamed and hunted. 

    Following an education where he earned both a Bachelor of Music and the equivalent of a Bachelor of Arts with an English major, he spent seven years immersed in the field of Native social work. He then combined his education and training and poured himself into writing. 

    Today Tomson enjoys an international career as playwright, novelist, pianist, composer and songwriter. Tomson is best known for universal hits such as The Rez Sisters, Dry Lips Oughta Move to Kapuskasing, Rose, Ernestine Shuswap Gets Her Trout, The (Post) Mistress and the best-selling novel Kiss of the Fur Queen. He has also published a number of children's books, namely Caribou Song, Dragon Fly Kites and Fox on the Ice. His work has been translated into 11 languages. 

    For many years Tomson was Artistic Director of Canada's premier aboriginal theatre company, Toronto-based Native Earth Performing Arts, from which has emerged an entire generation of playwrights and theatre artists. 

    Tomson is the recipient of 11 honorary doctorates and is a member of the Order of Canada. His awards include two Governor General's Literary Award nominations, Dora Mavor Moore Awards, Floyd S. Chalmers Canadian Play Award, Toronto Arts Award and National Aboriginal Achievement Award. 

    Fluent in Cree, French and English, he continues to write, teach, lecture, and perform across Canada and around the world.

    Jessica Carmichael
    Director

    2021: Director of The Rez Sisters. Fourth season. Stratford: Assistant director of The Aeneid, Christina, The Girl King. Elsewhere: Directing (selected): Embodying Power and Place (Nightwood Theatre/Native Earth); Apathy (Concordia University); Ipperwash (Blyth Festival); Boys, Girls, and Other Mythological Creatures, Tick, iChild, Hana Hashimoto, Sixth Violin (Carousel Players); Two Indians (SummerWorks); Savage (Native Earth Performing Arts); Treaty No. 9 (reading, Aluna Theatre/Rutas Panamericanas). Training: MFA Directing (University of Alberta); MA Text and Performance Studies (Royal Academy of Dramatic Art/King's College London); Acting Program (National Theatre School of Canada). Et cetera: Jessica is of mixed Abénaki/Euro heritage. She is a tenure-track assistant professor in Theatre at Concordia University in Tiohtià:ke/Molian/Montréal. Dedication: This performance is personally dedicated to my best friend, my beloved sister, Tegan Carmichael, 1986-2019.

    Sophie Tang
    Set and Lighting Designer

    2021: Set and lighting designer of The Rez Sisters. Second season. Elsewhere: Lighting design for 12 Dates of Christmas (Arts Club Theatre); East Van Panto: Panto Come Home (Theatre Replacement); La Voix Humaine (City Opera); Being Here: The Refugee Project (Belfry Theatre); Sis Ne' Bi-Yiz (Heart of the City Festival); Peter Pan (Carousel Theatre for Young People); The Orchard (Arts Club Theatre); Little Volcano (Veda Hille x Theatre Replacement). Set design for Kuroko (Vancouver Asian Canadian Theatre); SRO (Urban Ink Productions); Herringbone (Patrick Street Productions); Yoga Play (Gateway Theatre). Training: BFA Simon Fraser University, MFA University of British Columbia. Awards: Jessie Richardson Theatre Award: Titus Bouffonius (Rumble Theatre), Jessie Richardson Theatre Award nomination: Kuroko (Vancouver Asian Canadian Theatre), Chicken Girl (Rice and Beans Theatre), The Orchard (Arts Club Theatre). Online: Sophieyufeitang.com

    Asa Benally
    Costume Designer

    2021: Costume designer of The Rez Sisters. Second season. Navajo and Cherokee Nations. Elsewhere: Blues for an Alabama Sky (Keen Company, Drama Desk nomination); Venus and Adonis (New Camerata Opera); Too Heavy for Your Pocket (George Street Playhouse); Skeleton Crew (Westport Country Playhouse); Father Comes Home… (Juilliard); Measure for Measure (The Public Theater Mobile Unit); Cymbeline (Yale Repertory Theatre); The Brobot Johnson Experience (The Bushwick Starr); Tricks the Devil Taught Me (Minetta Lane Theatre); Coriolanus and The Seagull (Yale School of Drama); Whale Song (Perseverance Theater); The Crazy Shepherds of Rebellion, Roberto Zucco (Yale Cabaret); A Midsummer Night's Dream (Frog and Peach Theatre Company); The Winter's Tale (HERE Arts Center); Peer Gynt (Amherst College). Training: MFA Yale School of Drama. BFA Parsons School of Design. Online: asabenally.com. Instagram: @Asa_Benally_Design.

    Wayne Kelso
    Composer and Sound Designer
    2021: Composer and sound designer of The Rez Sisters. Stratford debut. Recent: Moonlodge (Soulpepper Theatre). Factory Theatre: Apple, Claudius, Amazon Dream, The Leisure Society, Better Living, Escape from Happiness, Beyond Mozambique, The Rez Sisters. Canadian Rep Theatre: Pacamambo, How Do I Love Thee, Armstrong's War, Tideline. Other Theatre: Sunshine & Shadows (Orillia Opera House), Possible Worlds (Helen Gardiner Phelan Playhouse), The Matador (York Street Theatre), Days of Wine and Roses (Hart House Theatre). CBC Radio Dramas: A Dream Within a Dream, The Pet, Alligators in the Lake, A Few Words About Harold, Ultimate Destination, Everything She Wants, The Most Beautiful Girl in Town, What Friends Do, Puppy Love. Online: waynekelso.com. Et cetera: Wayne celebrates his Métis heritage by dedicating this season to his late grandmother, Laura Gladue-Reid.
    Anita Nittoly
    Fight Director
    2021: Fight director of The Rez Sisters and intimacy director of Serving Elizabeth. Sixth season. Stratford: Fight director for the 2020 and 2019 seasons, and intimacy coach for Birds of a Kind. Elsewhere: Charlottetown Festival (2019 - Kronborg), Citadel Theatre (2019 - Fall on Your Knees), Centaur Theatre (2019 - The Last Wife; 2018 - Successions; 2017 - The 39 Steps), Carousel Players (2019 - Whole World), Blyth Festival (2018 season), Outside the March (2018 - Jerusalem), Canadian Opera Company (2014/15/16 - assistant fight master). Anita is the stage combat instructor and fight director at the National Theatre School in Montréal. She also works as a stunt performer and stunt actor in the film and TV industry - selected credits: See, Zeus, The Boys, Enhanced, Titans, Dark Matter. Et cetera: Supreme gratitude to Mom, Dad and Pat - you guys are everything to me.
    Sara Jarvie-Clark
    Assistant Director
    2021: Assistant director of The Rez Sisters. Stratford debut. Concordia University: Actor, writer, composer and musical director, Apathy Project (2019); director, Eurydice Project (2019); actor and creator, Dwellings (2017); actor, Yerma (2017). Elsewhere: Puppeteer and musical director, Selah's Song workshop (Theatre of the Beat); puppeteer and musician, The Echoes Project (Clay and Paper Theatre); puppeteer and musician, Fables for the Future (Clay and Paper Theatre). Music: Vocalist on Suzanne Jarvie's 2019 album In the Clear. Training: Concordia University, BFA in Theatre and Development. Online: sarajarvieclark.com; @sarajarvieclark. Currently: Sara is recording her debut album, Analogues of May, to be released via Wolfe Island Records this fall.
    Rosary Spence
    Cree/Ojibway Language Consultant
    2021: Cree/Ojibway Language Consultant for The Rez Sisters. Stratford debut. Elsewhere: Dialect coach for This Was the World (Tarragon Theatre); Cree translator and reader for The Rez Sisters, Treaty 9 (Native Earth Performing Arts); music composer and performer in Nagamo (Jumblies Theatre); music composer and performer in Like an Old Tale (Jumblies Theatre). Film/TV: Navajo Storekeeper in Paranormal Witness: Season 4; Cree translator and voiceover in Chasing Lear, by Lorne Cardinal; Storyteller in Naskumitowin: Treaty in Heritage Minutes for Historica Canada; Storyboot School feature on CBC Toronto. Radio/Recordings: Recording: I Fell in Love (Marilainen Music); OEN radio commercial recording (Gravity Inc). Album release: Maskawasiwin (Marilainen Music); Women's Voices for Attawapiskat (compilation). Composer/Singer: Condor & Eagle by New Tradition Music; Black Shawl by Classic Roots. Training: Banff Centre for the Arts. Online: rosaryspence.ca, @rosaryspence.
    Bona Duncan
    Stage Manager
    2021: Stage manager of The Rez Sisters. 21st season. Stratford: Stage manager: Private Lives, Long Day's Journey Into Night, Bakkhai, Tartuffe, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, The Taming of the Shrew, King John, Romeo and Juliet, The Merchant of Venice, Much Ado About Nothing, The Merry Wives of Windsor, Dangerous Liaisons, Cyrano de Bergerac, Zastrozzi, All's Well That Ends Well, Fanny Kemble, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Electra, The Scarlet Pimpernel, Hamlet. Assistant stage manager: The Neverending Story, Antony and Cleopatra, The Matchmaker, The Taming of the Shrew, Romeo and Juliet, Twelfth Night, As You Like It. Elsewhere: Herringbone and The Yalta Game (TIFT) and many theatres across our country in the last 30 years. Training: Technical Production, National Theatre School of Canada; BA, Bishop's University. Et cetera: Bona lives in Stratford with her husband, Daniel, and their daughter, Georgia.
    Holly Korhonen
    Assistant Stage Manager
    2021: Assistant stage manager of The Rez Sisters. 20th season. Stratford: Assistant stage manager: Little Shop of Horrors, The Rocky Horror Show, Timon of Athens, The Madwoman of Chaillot, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, A Little Night Music, The Taming of the Shrew, Love's Labour's Lost, King Lear, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Blithe Spirit, Charlie Brown, The Merry Wives of Windsor, Kiss Me, Kate, Dangerous Liaisons, The Importance of Being Earnest, Ever Yours, Oscar, Cabaret, My One and Only, South Pacific, Oliver!, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Edward II, The Count of Monte Cristo, Anything Goes, Henry VI. Stage manager: Birmingham Conservatory, 2006, 2007. Awards: Recipient of the Tanya Award and three Guthrie Awards. Et cetera: Holly would like to thank her husband, Steve, and their children, Jennica and Jackson, for all their love and support.
    Alysse Szatkowski
    Apprentice Stage Manager
    2021: Apprentice stage manager of The Rez Sisters. Stratford debut. Elsewhere: Orestes (Tarragon Theatre), The Seagull (Soulpepper Theatre), Copy That (Tarragon Theatre), BOOM X (Thousand Islands Playhouse), Copenhagen (Soulpepper Theatre), Shirley Valentine (Thousand Islands Playhouse), Two Pianos Four Hands (Thousand Islands Playhouse), The Flick (Single Thread Theatre Co.), The Mountaintop (Theatre Kingston), Venus in Fur (Theatre Kingston). Education: Queen's University, Bachelor of Music. Et cetera: Alysse is extremely excited to be making her Stratford debut, and is very thankful to every single person who helped her get here.
    Meghan Callan
    Production Stage Manager
    2021: Production stage manager of the Tom Patterson Theatre Canopy. 21st season. Stratford: In Meghan's 20 seasons she has served as production stage manager at all of the Festival's stages. Some of her favourite productions have been Paradise Lost, A Midsummer Night's Dream (2014), The Tempest (2010), A Little Night Music, Jesus Christ Superstar and Tommy. Training: Meghan holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre Production from York University. Elsewhere: Meghan has most recently stage-managed The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia and The Virgin Trial at Soulpepper Theatre. She has worked at the National Arts Centre, Citadel Theatre, toured New Brunswick (twice), and stage-managed car and industrial trade shows and concerts. Not since her beginnings as a stage manager at Canada's Wonderland has she worked in an outdoor theatre under a canopy and she's grateful to be back.
    Elizabeth McDermott
    Production Stage Manager

    2021: Production stage manager of the Tom Patterson Theatre Canopy. Eighth season. Stratford: Production stage manager, Festival Theatre, 2020. Assistant stage manager: Billy Elliot, Othello, The Music Man, To Kill a Mockingbird, Shakespeare in Love, The Hypochondriac, The Sound of Music, The Taming of the Shrew, Love's Labour's Lost, As You Like It, King of Thieves. Elsewhere (selected): King Lear, Twelfth Night (SiHP); A City, Divisadero (Necessary Angel); Cracked: new light on dementia (UW/Collective Disruption); Comfort (Red Snow Collective); The Road to Paradise, Night (Human Cargo); Miracle on 34th Street (STC); Bella (HGJTC); Anne of Green Gables, Canada Rocks! (Charlottetown); Falling: A Wake (Blyth); The Barber of Seville (Soulpepper); Binti's Journey, Head à Tête, Old Man and the River (Theatre Direct); Danny, King of the Basement (Roseneath); Othello, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Twelfth Night, All's Well That Ends Well (SLSF).

PHOTOGRAPHY & VIDEO

RESOURCES

Jessica Carmichael, director of The Rez Sisters, offers suggestions of reading and listening material to accompany your experience of the show. Click here to access the reading and listening list.


Inspired by the likes of Yoko Ono’s Wish Tree installation (1981-present), and the famous Paper Crane story of Sadako Sasaki, the Origami Bird is a symbol of hope. We invite you to make your own creation by following the simple steps on this tutorial video.

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