Shakespeare and Indigenous stories collide at the 1939 world premiere
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: www.stratfordfestival.ca 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. http://shingwauk.org
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. https://atlohsa.com