By Tomson HighwayDirected 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.
House Program: The Rez Sisters
Virtual Runtime: One hour and 44 minutes
Study Guide: The Rez Sisters
This production includes mature
content, strong language and description of sexual assault.
Production support is generously provided by Karon C. Bales & Charles E. Beall and by M. Fainer.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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