» » The Rez Sisters, Belfry Theatre
cultural work of `The Rez Sisters` essay
Tomson Highway is with us for the second section of a three-part Canadian play text study that includes Acting, Directing, and Playwriting students. Together, they are developing a vocabulary for text analysis. The week will culminate in a workshop reading of Tomson’s The Rez Sisters. Tomson is also at the School for a one-week Playwriting residency.
The Rez Sisters runs at Toronto’s Factory Theatre until Dec. 11.
The Rez Sisters, the 1986 play by iconic indigenous playwright Tomson Highway that celebrates Native women, with all their flaws and complex relationships, is nearing the end of its run at the Belfry Theater in Victoria, British Columbia. With the number of missing and murdered Indigenous women (MMIW) continuing to grow, it was a well-timed revival, to say the least. The latest version of the beloved play has been in the works for awhile; director Peter Hinton said he wanted to direct Sisters many years ago and Belfry Theatre’s artistic director Michael Shamata made attempts to produce the play for two years.
The Rez Sisters was lauded for its realistic portrayal of these distinct personalities. On a larger scale, Highway was hailed for creating a work that made Native North American life accessible as well as entertaining to a wide audience.Cara Gabriel, director
Studio Theatre, Katzen Arts Center
Tickets: $15, $10 AU community and seniors
The Rez Sisters, by Cree Canadian writer Tomson Highway, was first performed in 1986 and is inspired by Michael Tremblay's Les Belles-Souers and Anton Chekhov's The Three Sisters. A group of seven women on the fictional Wasaychigan Hill Indian Reserve on Manitoulin Island, Ontario, dream of escaping the "rez," and embark on a quest to attend and win "The Biggest Bingo in the World" in Toronto. The character of Nanabush, a shape-shifting Aboriginal spirit guide, shadows and propels the women on their journey. The play employs gritty naturalism, magic realism, and humor to highlight life on an Indian reserve.
*Please note: this production contains adult themes, explicit language, and a description of rape.With his studies completed, Highway followed his humanitarian impulses and began seven years’ work with The Native Peoples’ Resource Center in London, Ontario, and The Ontario Federation of Indian Friendship Centers in Toronto. It was during this time that he traveled extensively through the reservations of Canada, meeting and observing scores of Native people in streets, bars, prisons, and friendship centers. Upon turning thirty, Highway began his career as a playwright, presenting his work to Native audiences on reservations and in urban community centers. With the 1986 premiere of The Rez Sisters, Highway’s artistic career began to blossom.Think of the play as being on the same par as Anton Checkov's THE THREE SISTERS, a known inspiration for Tomson's play. I guess if you combined the both Checkov and Highway, you'd come away with THE THREE REZ SISTERS... but I digress. This week the latest production of THE REZ SISTERS opens at the Market Square in Peterborough, the first time its been seen in this city I believe. Hopefully, this production will tell you more about bingo, fund raising, and life in a typical (if such a thing exists) Reserve then you would have expected. One woman with a toilet fixation, one semi-divine bingo caller, a broken down van and a lesbian biker chick... just think of it as just another weekend in Curve Lake.