A Stratford Festival Commission
Jani Lauzon and Kaitlyn Riordan
Directed by Jani Lauzon
The play is set in a Residential School in 1939. While ultimately a story of hope and resilience that locates spaces in which Indigenous youth demonstrate agency and change, it explores the systemic erasure of Indigenous cultures by these institutions and its agents by way of racism, discrimination, colonial violence and family separation.
AN INSPIRING JOURNEY FROM PAGE TO STAGE
Anticipating a visit by King George VI, an English teacher at a fictional Residential School in Northern Ontario enlists her students in a production of All’s Well That Ends Well. But her rigid ideas of how Shakespeare should be performed are challenged as her Indigenous students start finding parallels between themselves and the characters in the play – and, far from letting themselves be defined by colonial expectations, set out to make Shakespeare’s bitter-sweet comedy defiantly their own.
A space for reflection will be available adjacent to the Studio Theatre following performances of 1939. This space will feature artist Tom Wilson’s Fading Memories of Home, an installation selected by the playwrights that explores the systemic erasure of Indigenous culture in residential schools. Tom Wilson is a musician, visual artist and writer of novels and non-fiction. At the age of fifty-three, it was revealed to him that he was adopted, and his parents were actually Kahnawake Mohawks. Moreover, the woman he’d been raised to believe was his aunt was his mother. Since then, Wilson has explored what his white upbringing means against the juxtaposition of his family and culture. Wilson’s art installation will be on view in the reflection space, which is facilitated by Kelly Fran Davis.All are welcome.
For each ticket sold to 1939, $5 will be donated jointly to the Children of Shingwauk Alumni Association and the Atlohsa Family Healing Centre.
House Program: 1939
Runtime: Two hours and 28 minutes, including one 20-minute interval
Production support is generously provided by Karon C. Bales & Charles E. Beall and by M. Fainer.
Support for the creation of 1939 is generously provided by The Foerster Bernstein New Play Development Program.
Photo credits: John Wamsley as Jean Delorme with (from left) Richard Comeau as Joseph Summers, Wahsonti:io Kirby as Evelyne Rice, Kathleen MacLean as Susan Blackbird, Mike Shara as Father Callum Williams and Tara Sky as Beth Summers in 1939. Photo by David Hou.
Tara Sky as Beth Summers and Richard Comeau as Joseph Summers in 1939. Photo by David Hou.
2022: Usher, Chorus in Hamlet-911 and Joseph Summers in 1939. Stratford debut. Richard is a Mi'kmaq and Métis performer and fight director who recognizes his privilege. He is also the first and only Indigenous-identifying Certified Fight Instructor with Fight Directors Canada (FDC). Stage combat instructor and resident fight director at Centre for Indigenous Theatre (CIT); fight instructor and company member at Rapier Wit Stage and Screen Combat. Elsewhere: Fight director for This Is How We Got Here (Shaw Festival 2022, Native Earth 2020); The Old Man in A Christmas Story (Lower Ossington Theatre); Charles in Tapwewin (Weesageechak Festival); Edgar in King Lear (Thorneloe Players). Film/TV: Star Wars Battlefront II: Official Rivals (Disney/Lucas Films); Extraordinary Canadians: Joseph Boyden On Luis Riel and Gabriel Dumont (CBC/PMA Biographies). Et cetera: Richard dedicates this season to all those who were/are affected by residential schools, and to the memory of his niece and Goddaughter, Tashana.
Birmingham Conservatory, 2022/23
2022: Becky, Usher, Chorus in Hamlet-911 and Evelyne Rice in 1939. Second season. Elsewhere: The Widow in Burning Vision, Friar Laurence in Romeo and Juliet (National Theatre School of Canada); Ensemble in Aqsarniit (Confederation Centre of the Arts, two seasons); Speck in Mistatim (Red Sky Productions - Prologue Showcase). Film/TV: Caitlin in Mohawk Girls (voiceover, four seasons). Training: Dawson College Professional Theatre Program; National Theatre School of Canada. Et cetera: Wahsontí:io dedicates this season to their parents (Melanie and Daniel Kariwate Kirby), their siblings (Karihwenha:wi and Kariwatatie), their family, mentors and friends.
2022: Susan Blackbird in 1939. Third season. Stratford: Emily Dictionary in The Rez Sisters. Elsewhere: Okânawâpacikêw in nîkwatin sîpiy (Frozen River) (Manitoba Theatre for Young People); 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. Instagram: @katmaclean. Et cetera: Kinanâskomitin to my family and to both the Indigenous and queer storytellers who came before me so that I may stand on their shoulders.
2022: Beth Summers in 1939. Second season. Elsewhere: Ensemble in Reasonable Doubt (Persephone Theatre); Celeste in Think of the Children, Ensemble in Serious Money, Joan and Jennifer in 7 Stories, Ensemble in We came from dust, Banquo and Lady Macduff in Macbeth (NTS); Young Grete in Holy Mothers (SummerWorks); Angel in Nativity (NAC). Film/TV: Delivery, The River You Step In, Ruby Sky P.I. Training: National Theatre School of Canada, Etobicoke School of the Arts. Instagram: @tara.kitty.sky, @taraskybeads.
2022: Jessica, Siri in Hamlet-911 and Sian Ap Dafydd in 1939. 11th season. Stratford (selected): The Front Page, The Merry Wives of Windsor, Paradise Lost, The Comedy of Errors, Treasure Island, Romeo and Juliet, The Breathing Hole, The Importance of Being Earnest, House of Atreus trilogy, The Swanne, Richard III, Private Lives, The Merchant of Venice, Macbeth, The Cherry Orchard, The Seagull, King Lear. Elsewhere (selected): The Antipodes, Marjorie Prime (Coal Mine); Sexy Laundry (Thousand Islands); Mustard, The Small Room at the Top of the Stairs, Communion, Humble Boy, The Fall (Tarragon); Domesticated, A Whistle in the Dark, Marion Bridge (Company Theatre); Age of Arousal, The Penelopiad (Nightwood). Film/TV: Anne with an E, Murdoch Mysteries, Ginny & Georgia. Training: George Brown Theatre School. Awards: Two Dora Awards; Toronto Critics Award for Marjorie Prime (2020). She is grateful to be back at the Studio with this incredible company.
2022: Rosemary in Hamlet-911 and Madge Macbeth in 1939. Ninth season. Stratford: Patience Maria in Henry VIII, Stephanie Crawford in To Kill a Mockingbird, Calpurnia in Julius Caesar, Celia in As You Like It and Caroline Bingley in Pride and Prejudice. Elsewhere: Citadel Theatre, Blyth Festival, Shakespeare in the Ruff, Canadian Stage, Young People's Theatre, Theatre Northwest, Sudbury Theatre, Royal Manitoba Theatre, Resurgence Theatre, Theatre By The Bay, Brookstone Theatre, Buddies in Bad Times, Thought for Food, Equity Showcase, Toronto Fringe and SummerWorks. Film/TV: The Christmas Spirit (feature film), Re: Possessed Homes (short film), Murdoch Mysteries, Rookie Blue, Flashpoint, Little Mosque on the Prairie, Missing, Train 48, Our Hero, The City, F/X: The Series, Falling Fire. Training: George Brown Theatre School, Banff/Citadel Robbins Academy. Awards: Jean A. Chalmers Award, 2018 Tanya Award in recognition of excellence.
2022: Guinness Menzies in Hamlet-911 and Father Callum Williams in 1939. 10th season. Stratford: The Homecoming, As You Like It, The Matchmaker, Hamlet, Love's Labour's Lost, King Lear, The Importance of Being Earnest, The Front Page, Othello. Elsewhere: 10 seasons at the Shaw Festival, appearances with Soulpepper, Tarragon, National Arts Centre, Vancouver Playhouse, Citadel Theatre, Theatre Calgary, MTC, Theatre Aquarius, Canadian Stage. Film/TV: Astrid & Lilly Save the World, Orphan Black, Designated Survivor, Murdoch Mysteries, Run to Me, Ride, Defining Moments, Whatever Linda, The Gathering. Awards: 1983 St. Catharines Minor League Baseball Sportsmanship Award. Twitter: @mikeshara. Et cetera: Love to Molly, Carla, my parents and brothers, Jeff and Matt.
2022: Co-playwright and director of 1939. Fourth season. Stratford: Pelajia Patchnose in The Rez Sisters, Huumittuq/Panik/Marianne in The Breathing Hole. Elsewhere: Actor: Trebonius/Cato in Julius Caesar (Groundling/Crow's); Cordelia/Fool in King Lear (NAC); Neighbour/Servant in Blood Wedding (Modern Times/Aluna Theatre). Film/TV: Ruby and the Well, Something Undone, Saving Hope. Awards: Gemini (puppeteering), Best Actress (American Indian Film Festival/Dreamspeakers), ACTRA Toronto Award of Excellence, John Hirsch Directors Award, Toronto Theatre Critics - Best Director. Director: Alien Creature (TPM), The Monument (Factory Theatre), Almighty Voice and His Wife and Where the Blood Mixes (Soulpepper), Rope (Shaw Festival). 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 (touring Ontario, January-March 2023). Jani is an Associate Artist at the National Theatre School.
Co-playwright of 1939.
I am a settler on this land, of Irish and French descent. It is an identity that I am neither proud nor ashamed of, but one that I acknowledge as I seek to acknowledge the history of my country that I wasn't taught in school. As ground-penetrating radar probes the policies of our past, the unmarked graves of Indigenous children must compel us to continue questioning the narratives about Canada we've grown up on. What has been excluded from those narratives to serve the settler colonial society and how do we address the systemic injustice? I believe that the Residential School System is a vital thread in that and my deep appreciation goes to Murray Sinclair, those who worked on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and especially the Survivors who shared their stories; my eyes and heart were opened by your strength.
Throughout the five-year process of researching and co-writing this play, I began a journey of learning that continues and requires commitment, community and gratitude. In that spirit, a hearty thank-you for the guidance and generosity of my co-writer, Jani Lauzon, I learned so much from you during this process, Jani - about story-telling, leadership and life. I also wish to extend gratitude to the remarkable Elders and Survivors who helped us on this journey; my greatest hope is that this story honours you and the resilience I've been lucky enough to witness within you. To my parents, thank you for your ceaseless encouragement and curiosity. And to my partner, you are home to me.
From 2012-2021, Kaitlyn was part of the leadership team at Shakespeare in the Ruff. There, her play, Portia's Julius Caesar, premiered in 2018 and was subsequently produced at Hart House Theatre in 2019. It centres the lives of the mostly unseen women in Shakespeare's play, using half new writing in verse and half Shakespearean text. Other plays in development include I Sit Content about Emily Carr, Gertrude's Hamlet, and others. Kaitlyn is an actor and playwright - visit kaitlynriordan.com for her full biography.
2022: Set designer of 1939. Ninth season. Joanna is a set and costume designer born in Hong Kong, raised in Thornhill, Ontario. Over the past 15 years, Joanna has designed over 100 productions for large and small theatres across Canada; 44 of them world premières. Design collaborations include Stratford Festival, Shaw Festival, Young People's Theatre, Tarragon, Canadian Stage, Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre, Citadel Theatre, Factory Theatre, Obsidian, Cahoots, fu-GEN, Blyth Festival, The Musical Stage Company, Theatre Passe Muraille, Buddies in Bad Times, Why Not Theatre, Nightwood, Project: Humanity, The Grand Theatre, Neptune Theatre, Theatre New Brunswick, Mirvish, Lemon Tree Productions, Signal Theatre, Luminato, Tapestry Opera, Canadian Opera Company. Awards: The Virginia and Myrtle Cooper Award, Pauline McGibbon Award. Online: joannayudesign.com. Et cetera: Joanna sits on the Board of Directors for the Associated Designers of Canada.
2022: Costume designer of 1939. Third season. Citizen of the Navajo and Cherokee Nations. The Rez Sisters (Stratford Festival); Where We Belong (Woolly Mammoth Theater, Baltimore Center Stage); Mrs. Warren's Profession (The Gingold Group); Blues for an Alabama Sky (Keen Company, Drama Desk nomination); Somewhere Over the Border (Syracuse Stage); 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 Theater); The Brobot Johnson Experience (The Bushwick Starr); Tricks the Devil Taught Me (Minetta Lane Theatre); Coriolanus, The Seagull (Yale School of Drama); Whale Song (Perseverance Theater); Roberto Zucco (Yale Cabaret); The Winter's Tale (HERE Arts Center). Training: MFA Yale School of Drama. BFA Parsons School of Design. Online: asabenally.com, Instagram: @Asa_Benally_Design.
2022: Lighting designer of All's Well That Ends Well and 1939. 36th season. Stratford: Over 70 productions including Edward Albee's Three Tall Women, Henry VIII, Julius Caesar, Twelfth Night, Romeo and Juliet, All My Sons. Ms Guinand is delighted to be designing in the new Tom Patterson Theatre. Elsewhere: Ms Guinand has designed lights for over 550 shows across Canada and the United States. Recent productions before the arrival of COVID include Charley's Aunt, Rope (Shaw); Cinderella, I Call Myself Princess (Globe); Pinocchio (YPT). Training: A graduate of Queen's University and the National Theatre School. Awards: One Dora Award. Multiple award nominations across Canada. Louise was the recipient of the 2018 Bradley Garrick Guthrie Award. Affiliation: Member of ADC659. Other: Louise is within seven Shakespeares of achieving her desire to light the entire Shakespearean canon.
(she/her) Langham Directors' Workshop, 2022
2022: Assistant director of 1939. Stratford debut. desirée is a theatre director, creator, mover and shaker, who will never wash treaty 6 soil from beneath her feet. She exists here to bring questions, and reveal stories and conversations, for artists and audiences alike, so that we can all dream of a better future together. desirée is attracted to epic stories: epic in content, in aesthetic, and in spirit. She's received institutional education from University of Alberta (BA), and York University (MFA), and has directed in large institutions and quiet back alleys. desirée has a particular affinity for working on art that is devised in nature and loves to play with traditional text in a way to transform ideas and institutions that are no longer serving us.
2022: Assistant lighting designer of Every Little Nookie, Hamlet-911 and 1939. Stratford debut. Elsewhere: Technical director and associate lighting designer (Mayday Danse); technical director and production manager (Black Theatre Workshop), lighting designer and technical director (We All Fall Down), interim technical director (Globe Theatre Regina), associate sound designer (Globe Theatre Regina), technical director (Montreal Fringe Festival), lighting designer (MoonCow Theatre Co.). Training: National Theatre School of Canada, McGill University.
2022: Assistant sound designer of Every Little Nookie, Hamlet-911 and 1939. Stratford debut. Elsewhere: Associate sound designer for Three Women of Swatow (Tarragon Theatre); sound designer for It'll Come to Me, production designer for The Fates, End of Term and Backliners (Theatre SKAM); music director, composer and sound designer for Othello (Phoenix Theatre, UVic); assistant to the sound and video designer for The Wedding Party (Alberta Theatre Projects); music director and composer for Julius Caesar and The Two Gentlemen of Verona (Greater Victoria Shakespeare Festival). Audio Plays: Sound designer for Ganga's Ganja (Red Betty Theatre); sound designer for Knife Skills (Blue Jaye Productions). Other Audio Works: Sound designer for Liberated Feminist Futures (Nightwood Theatre). Training: University of Victoria, Department of Theatre and School of Music. Online: oliviagwheeler.com, @liv.g.wheeler.
2022: Production stage manager of the Avon and Studio theatres and stage manager of 1939. 22nd 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: Bona has had the good fortune to have worked in many theatres across our country over her career. 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.
2022: Assistant stage manager of 1939. Stratford debut. Stratford: Virtual stage manager, The Lab, 2021-2022. Elsewhere: White Girls in Moccasins (Manidoons/Buddies); Private Eyes (lemonTree/Lieutenant Governor of Canada); The Runner (Human Cargo *2019 Dora Award winner); School Girls; or, The African Mean Girls Play (Obsidian/Nightwood *2019 Dora Award winner); Jesus Hopped the 'A' Train, August: Osage County, 88 Keys, Noises Off, Father Comes Home From the Wars, parts 1, 2 and 3 (Soulpepper); Wrong for Each Other (Foster Festival); Risky Phil, Munschtime! (YPT); Wedding Party (Crow's/ TIFT). Film/TV: New Monuments (CBC). Training: Glendon College's Drama Studies and English Studies, and York University's Concurrent Education Program. Dedication: Ada dedicates this season to all the children who never made it home.
2022: Assistant stage manager of 1939. Second season. Stratford: Charlie Brown in You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown, Noah in Wanderlust. Elsewhere: Stage manager of All I Want for Christmas (Lunchbox Theatre); A Short History of Niagara (Shaw Festival/Mike Petersen Inc.); All the Little Animals I Have Eaten, Lo (or Dear Mr. Wells) (Nightwood Theatre); Alice the Magnet (Theatre Animal). Assistant stage manager of Cipher (Vertigo Theatre). Apprentice stage manager of The Ladykillers, The Horse and His Boy, The Orchard (After Chekhov), The Hound of the Baskervilles (Shaw Festival); Herringbone/The Yalta Game (TIFT). Et cetera: Ken has performed with the Shaw Festival, Neptune Theatre, Segal Centre, Drayton Entertainment, TIFT. He plays Duddy in the original cast recording of Alan Menken's The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravtiz. Ken is ecstatic to be returning to the Stratford Festival, this time in stage management!
2022: Production stage manager of the Avon and Studio Theatres and assistant stage manager of Every Little Nookie. 30th season. Stratford: Selected productions: Private Lives, The Front Page, Long Day's Journey Into Night, Palmer Park, The Trojan Women, Henry IV, Part 1, Wingfield's Inferno, Cymbeline, No Exit, The Lunatic, the Lover and the Poet, Tempest-Tost, Richard III, Wingfield Unbound, The Boy Friend, Tartuffe, HMS Pinafore, The Gondoliers, The Physicists, The Alchemist, The Matchmaker, Jacques Brel Is Alive and Well and Living in Paris, Three Sisters, An Ideal Husband, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Waiting for Godot, Sweet Bird of Youth, Romeo and Juliet, King John, Bacchae, The Merchant of Venice, Uncle Vanya, Bonjour, là, Bonjour. Elsewhere: Grand Theatre, Shaw Festival, Canadian Stage, Manitoba Theatre Centre, Young People's Theatre, Theatre New Brunswick, Tarragon Theatre, Citadel Theatre, Toronto Dance Theatre, Vancouver Playhouse and Mirvish.
2022: Production stage manager of the Avon and Studio Theatres and stage manager of Chicago. 26th season. Stratford: Shows include Billy Elliot, A Chorus Line, Crazy for You, Fiddler on the Roof, Camelot, Oklahoma!, West Side Story, My Fair Lady, Man of La Mancha, Hello, Dolly!, The King and I and others. Elsewhere: Over 40 years as a stage manager in live entertainment including gala events, music concerts, opening ceremonies and fundraising events including A Christmas Carol for the Stratford Hospice. Over 25 years with the Canadian Opera Company as a stage manager; production stage manager and resident director of Jersey Boys, Toronto; 25 years as a singer/dancer and choreographer in Canadian theatre; associate director/choreographer to her mentor, Alan Lund. Et cetera: Love to Paul, daughters Stephanie and Jennifer, son-in-law Andrew, and her grandchildren, Kennedy, Koston and Connor. I am so grateful to be back at work.
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