Shakespeare and Indigenous stories collide at the 1939 world premiere

Wahsonti:io Kirby (centre) as Evelyne Rice with company members in 1939. Stratford Festival 2022. – Photo by David Hou

STRATFORD (August 23, 2022) 1939a Stratford Festival commission written by Jani Lauzon and Kaitlyn Riordan, began previews at the Studio Theater on August 23, under Lauzon’s direction.

This play is hosted for the first time by actors Richard Comeau as Joseph Summers, Wahsonti:io Kirby as Evelyne Rice, Kathleen MacLean as Susan Blackbird, Tara Sky as Beth Summers and John Wamsley as Jean Delorme with Sarah Dodd, Jacklyn Francis. and Mike Shara.

The production includes set design by Joanna Yu, costume design by Asa Benally, lighting design by Louise Guinand, sound design and composition by Wayne Kelso, dramaturgy by Jessica Carmichael and Sorouja Moll.

1939 finds us at a fictional Indian boarding school in northern Ontario where, anticipating a visit from King George VI, an English teacher enlists her students in a production of All’s well That ends well. But his rigid ideas of how Shakespeare should be interpreted are challenged as his native students begin to find parallels between themselves and the characters in the play – and, far from being defined by colonial expectations, set out to do Shakespeare’s bittersweet comedy with defiance. theirs.

“While this isn’t the first play written about the incredible resilience of residential school survivors, what’s different now is that organizations like Stratford are providing support and curious audiences are coming to witness and listen,” says Lauzon. “We are now able to create theater with highly skilled Indigenous actors, along with spiritual support from Elders and Knowledge Keepers. We have conversations around cultural intimacy and use circular communication to transform the way we create theatre.

With all of this coming together, Lauzon sees that “the change that so many have been fighting for is finally happening.”

For each ticket sold at 1939$5 will be donated jointly to the Shingwauk Children’s Alumni Association and Atlohsa Family Healing Services.

A space for reflection will be available next to the Studio Théâtre after the performances of 1939. This space will feature artist Tom Wilson Memories of home fading, a playwright-selected installation that explores the systemic erasure of Indigenous culture in residential schools. Tom Wilson is a musician, visual artist, and author of novels and non-fiction. At the age of 53, it was revealed to him that he had been adopted and that his parents were in fact Mohawks from Kahnawake. Also, the woman he had been raised to believe was his aunt was actually his mother. Since then, Wilson has explored what her white upbringing means against the juxtaposition of her family and culture. Wilson’s art installation will be featured in the Reflection Space, hosted by Kelly Fran Davis, professor of Indigenous histories and cultures in the Faculty of Education at Wilfrid Laurier University. Everyone is welcome.

1939 opens on September 11 and will run until October 29. For tickets and information, please visit: or call 1.800.567.1600.

Production support is generously provided by Karon C. Bales, Charles E. Beall and M. Fainer. Support for the creation of 1939 is generously provided by the Foerster Bernstein New Play development program.

The 2022 season runs until October 30, with Hamlet, Chicago, The Miser, Little woman, Richard III, All’s well That ends well, Death and the King’s Rider, Every Little Nookie, Hamlet-911, and 1939.

CAST (in alphabetical order)

Richard Comeau Joseph Summers

Sarah Dodd Sian Ap Dafydd

Jacklyn Francis Madge Macbeth

Wahsonti:io Kirby Evelyne Rice

Kathleen MacLean Susan Blackbird

Mike SharaFather Callum Williams

Tara SkyBeth Summers

John Wamsley Jean Delorme


Co-writer Jani Lauzon

Co-writer Kaitlyn Riordan

Director Jani Lauzon

Scenographer Joanna Yu

Costume designer Asa Benally

Lighting designer Louise Guinand

Composer and sound designer Wayne Kelso

Playwright Jessica Carmichael

Dramaturg researcher Sorouja Moll

Combat Director Geoff Scovell

Senior Script Advisors Pauline Shirt, Shirley Horn, Edna Manitowabi, Elizabeth Stevens

Summer Bressette, Indigenous Community Ambassador

Kanien’kéha Translator Wahsonti:io Kirby

Anishinaabemowin translator Waawaate Fobister with Roger Fobister Sr.

Counselor in Spiritual and Traditional Medicine Pauline Shirt

Cultural Liaison Phil Davis

Assistant Director Désirée Leverenz

Assistant scenographer and costume designer Victoria Spain

Lighting Assistant Hannah Kirby

Sound Design Assistant Olivia Wheeler

Combat Captain Richard Comeau

Think Space Facilitator Kelly Fran Davis

“Evanescent Memories of the House”,
Reflection Space Art Installation by Tom Wilson

Director Bona Duncan

Assistant manager Ada Aguilar

Assistant Manager Ken James Stewart

Production Assistant Carolyn Bayley

Production managers Bona Duncan, Bruno Gonsalves, Cynthia Toushan

Technical Director Eleanor Creelman

Assistant Technical Director Zach Fedora




The Shingwauk Children’s Alumni Association(CSAA) is dedicated to the welfare of the Children of Shingwauk Elders who are former students of Shingwauk and Wawanosh Indian Residential Schools, their families and communities.

Atlohsa has been serving individuals and families in Southwestern Ontario since 1986, providing holistic, low-barrier services to community members with complex needs including mental wellness, addictions, homelessness, family violence and trauma. Atlohsa specializes in providing strengths-based healing and wellness supports, using trauma-informed and harm reduction approaches.

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