Belfry Theatre opens 39th Season with Tomson Highway’s groundbreaking play, The Rez Sisters

"a striking cast of characters who reveal both blemishes and beauty…and who possess, on the whole, great human dignity." Canadian Theatre Review

Wednesday, September 3, 2014 — Victoria, British Columbia...From September 16 - October 19, 2014, the Belfry Theatre will present Tomson Highway's ground-breaking play, The Rez Sisters. Directed by Peter Hinton, The Rez Sisters stars Reneltta Arluk, Tiffany Ayalik, Tantoo Cardinal, Tasha Faye Evans, Waawaate Fobister, Cheri Maracle, Tracey Nepinak and Lisa C. Ravensbergen.

Tomson Highway is a celebrated Cree playwright, novelist, children's author and pianist / songwriter. His best known works are the plays, The Rez Sisters, Dry Lips Oughta Move to Kapuskasing, Rose, Ernestine Shuswap Gets Her Trout, and the best-selling novel, Kiss of The Fur Queen.

In 2000, Maclean's named Tomson as one of the 100 most important people in Canadian history.

The Rez Sisters was first performed in 1986, and Tomson wanted to make life on the reservation (or 'the rez') seem "cool" and "show and celebrate what funky folk Canada's Indian people really are."

Inspired by Michel Tremblay's play Les Belles-Soeurs, Highway's The Rez Sisters follows seven women, all related either by blood or marriage, living on the fictional Wasaychigan Hill Indian Reserve on Manitoulin Island, Ontario.

When they find out about "The Biggest Bingo In The World," to be held in Toronto, they embark on an eventful and challenging road trip, each dreaming of winning the jackpot and what life-changing fortunes it will bring them.

The creative team for The Rez Sisters includes Denise Clarke (Choreographer), Catherine Hahn (Set & Costume Designer), Bonnie Beecher (Lighting Designer), Troy Slocum (Sound Designer/Composer), Ryan Cunningham (Assistant Director), Jennifer Swan (Stage Manager) and Jessica McLeod (Assistant Stage Manager).

Engaging Audiences
Prior to and throughout the run of The Rez Sisters, the Belfry is producing a number of audience engagement events designed to enhance and extend the experience of the play.

B4Play - Saturday, September 13 at 11 am
CBC Radio's Gregor Craigie will host a live talk show featuring director Peter Hinton, acclaimed actress Tantoo Cardinal from The Rez Sisters, and Judith Sayers, former Chief of Hupacasath First Nation. This free event is held at the Belfry Theatre.

AFTERPLAY WEEKS
September 23 - 27 / October 7 - 11
Following selected performances of The Rez Sisters, we'll host Afterplay - a facilitated discussion where patrons can share their thoughts with fellow audience members. It's a chance to "debrief" after the show and hear how other audience members experienced the play.

TALKBACK THURSDAY
Thursday, September 25
Following the 8 pm performance of The Rez Sisters, join some of the actors from the show and your fellow audience members for a 20-minute Q & A session.

BOOKSMACK!
Monday, September 29 at 7:30 pm
Fast, furious and fun, GVPL librarians return to the Belfry for Booksmack. They'll let their hair down, take off their glasses and speed review their favourite books. Highbrow, lowbrow and everything in between, including some great titles inspired by The Rez Sisters. Free event.

VOCALEYE PERFORMANCE
Sunday, October 12 at 2 pm
Audio describers provide descriptions of the visual elements of the show, allowing people with low vision to enjoy the theatrical experience without missing any of the details. Following the performance there is a touch tour of the set.

Ticket Information and Performance Schedule
Tuesdays - Saturdays at 8 pm
Wednesday Matinees (September 24 & October 1) at 1 pm
Saturday Matinees at 4 pm
Sunday Matinees at 2 pm

Single tickets can be booked by calling 250-385-6815, or online at www.belfry.bc.ca. Student discounts are available.

Audience Advice - The Rez Sisters contains some strong language and mature subject matter.

Special Thanks
The Rez Sisters is generously sponsored by The Magnolia Hotel, TD Canada Trust, 103.1 JACK FM and 98.5 The Ocean.

The Belfry's Season Sponsors are Thrifty Foods, the Times Colonist, and Cook's Day Off Fine Foods and Catering. The Canada Council for the Arts, the Province of British Columbia, the BC Arts Council, CRD Arts and the City of Victoria are our government funders.

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For interviews, photos and HD video for the show please contact:
Mark Dusseault / Marketing & Communications Director
250-385-6835 / pr@belfry.bc.ca

Tantoo Cardinal on being an activist (Part 3 of 9) / Theatre Museum Canada

Mohawk Singer/Actress Cheri Maracle Live at Aboriginal Day 2008 in Winnipeg

Waawaate Fobister - TEDxToronto

Tomson Highway Interview from ideaCity05 Part 1

Tantoo Cardinal (as Pelajia Patchnose) in The Rez Sisters by Tomson Highway / Photos by David Cooper / <a href="http://www.belfry.bc.ca/the-rez-sisters/" rel="nofollow">www.belfry.bc.ca/the-rez-sisters/</a>
Tantoo Cardinal (as Pelajia Patchnose) in The Rez Sisters by Tomson Highway / Photos by David Cooper / <a href="http://www.belfry.bc.ca/the-rez-sisters/" rel="nofollow">www.belfry.bc.ca/the-rez-sisters/</a>
Tantoo Cardinal (as Pelajia Patchnose), Lisa C. Ravensbergen (as Annie Cook) and Tracey Nepinak (as Philomena Moosetail) in The Rez Sisters by Tomson Highway / Photos by David Cooper / <a href="http://www.belfry.bc.ca/the-rez-sisters/" rel="nofollow">www.belfry.bc.ca/the-rez-sisters/</a>
Waawaate Fobister (as Nanabush) in The Rez Sisters by Tomson Highway / Photos by David Cooper / <a href="http://www.belfry.bc.ca/the-rez-sisters/" rel="nofollow">www.belfry.bc.ca/the-rez-sisters/</a>
Cheri Maracle (as Veronique St. Pierre) and Tiffany Ayalik (as Zhaboonigan Peterson) in The Rez Sisters by Tomson Highway / Photos by David Cooper / <a href="http://www.belfry.bc.ca/the-rez-sisters/" rel="nofollow">www.belfry.bc.ca/the-rez-sisters/</a>
Tasha Faye Evans (as Marie Adele Starblanket) and Waawaate Fobister (as Nanabush) in The Rez Sisters by Tomson Highway / Photos by David Cooper / <a href="http://www.belfry.bc.ca/the-rez-sisters/" rel="nofollow">www.belfry.bc.ca/the-rez-sisters/</a>
Foreground - Lisa C. Ravensbergen (as Annie Cook) in The Rez Sisters by Tomson Highway / Photos by David Cooper / <a href="http://www.belfry.bc.ca/the-rez-sisters/" rel="nofollow">www.belfry.bc.ca/the-rez-sisters/</a>
Left to right - Waawaate Fobister (as Nanabush), Cheri Maracle (as Veronique St. Pierre) and Tasha Faye Evans (as Marie Adele Starblanket) in The Rez Sisters by Tomson Highway / Photos by David Cooper / <a href="http://www.belfry.bc.ca/the-rez-sisters/" rel="nofollow">www.belfry.bc.ca/the-rez-sisters/</a>
Waawaate Fobister (as Nanabush) and Reneltta Arluk (as Emily Dictionary) in The Rez Sisters by Tomson Highway / Photos by David Cooper / <a href="http://www.belfry.bc.ca/the-rez-sisters/" rel="nofollow">www.belfry.bc.ca/the-rez-sisters/</a>
Lisa C. Ravensbergen (as Annie Cook) and Tantoo Cardinal (as Pelajia Patchnose) in The Rez Sisters by Tomson Highway / Photos by David Cooper / <a href="http://www.belfry.bc.ca/the-rez-sisters/" rel="nofollow">www.belfry.bc.ca/the-rez-sisters/</a>
Foreground - Waawaate Fobister (as Nanabush) and Tiffany Ayalik (as Zhaboonigan Peterson) in The Rez Sisters by Tomson Highway / Photos by David Cooper / <a href="http://www.belfry.bc.ca/the-rez-sisters/" rel="nofollow">www.belfry.bc.ca/the-rez-sisters/</a>
Foreground - Tiffany Ayalik (as Zhaboonigan Peterson) and Waawaate Fobister (as Nanabush) in The Rez Sisters by Tomson Highway / Photos by David Cooper / <a href="http://www.belfry.bc.ca/the-rez-sisters/" rel="nofollow">www.belfry.bc.ca/the-rez-sisters/</a>
Reneltta Arluk (as Emily Dictionary), Tantoo Cardinal (as Pelajia Patchnose) and Tracey Nepinak (as Philomena Moosetail) in The Rez Sisters by Tomson Highway / Photos by David Cooper / <a href="http://www.belfry.bc.ca/the-rez-sisters/" rel="nofollow">www.belfry.bc.ca/the-rez-sisters/</a>
Waawaate Fobister (as Nanabush) and Tasha Faye Evans (as Marie Adele Starblanket) in The Rez Sisters by Tomson Highway / Photos by David Cooper / <a href="http://www.belfry.bc.ca/the-rez-sisters/" rel="nofollow">www.belfry.bc.ca/the-rez-sisters/</a>
Tasha Faye Evans (as Marie Adele Starblanket), Lisa C. Ravensbergen (as Annie Cook), Reneltta Arluk (as Emily Dictionary), Tantoo Cardinal (as Pelajia Patchnose), and Tiffany Ayalik (as Zhaboonigan Peterson) in The Rez Sisters by Tomson Highway / Photos by David Cooper / <a href="http://www.belfry.bc.ca/the-rez-sisters/" rel="nofollow">www.belfry.bc.ca/the-rez-sisters/</a>
Left to right - Reneltta Arluk (as Emily Dictionary), Lisa C. Ravensbergen (as Annie Cook), Tasha Faye Evans (as Marie Adele Starblanket), Tantoo Cardinal (as Pelajia Patchnose), Tiffany Ayalik (as Zhaboonigan Peterson), Tracey Nepinak (as Philomena Moosetail), Waawaate Fobister (as Nanabush / behind) and Cheri Maracle (as Veronique St. Pierre), in The Rez Sisters by Tomson Highway / Photos by David Cooper / <a href="http://www.belfry.bc.ca/the-rez-sisters/" rel="nofollow">www.belfry.bc.ca/the-rez-sisters/</a>
Reneltta Arluk (as Emily Dictionary), Lisa C. Ravensbergen (as Annie Cook), Tasha Faye Evans (as Marie Adele Starblanket), Tantoo Cardinal (as Pelajia Patchnose), Tracey Nepinak (as Philomena Moosetail), Tiffany Ayalik (as Zhaboonigan Peterson), Cheri Maracle (as Veronique St. Pierre), and Waawaate Fobister (as Nanabush) in The Rez Sisters by Tomson Highway / Photos by David Cooper / <a href="http://www.belfry.bc.ca/the-rez-sisters/" rel="nofollow">www.belfry.bc.ca/the-rez-sisters/</a>
Featured, left to right facing camera - Cheri Maracle (as Veronique St. Pierre), Tantoo Cardinal (as Pelajia Patchnose), Tracey Nepinak (as Philomena Moosetail), and Tasha Faye Evans (as Marie Adele Starblanket) / Left to right, back to camera - Reneltta Arluk (as Emily Dictionary), and Lisa C. Ravensbergen (as Annie Cook) in The Rez Sisters by Tomson Highway / Photos by David Cooper / <a href="http://www.belfry.bc.ca/the-rez-sisters/" rel="nofollow">www.belfry.bc.ca/the-rez-sisters/</a>
Featured left to right - Tracey Nepinak (as Philomena Moosetail), Tasha Faye Evans (as Marie Adele Starblanket), and Lisa C. Ravensbergen (as Annie Cook) in The Rez Sisters by Tomson Highway / Photos by David Cooper / <a href="http://www.belfry.bc.ca/the-rez-sisters/" rel="nofollow">www.belfry.bc.ca/the-rez-sisters/</a>
Tasha Faye Evans (as Marie Adele Starblanket) and Waawaate Fobister (as Nanabush) in The Rez Sisters by Tomson Highway / Photos by David Cooper / <a href="http://www.belfry.bc.ca/the-rez-sisters/" rel="nofollow">www.belfry.bc.ca/the-rez-sisters/</a>
Left to right - Lisa C. Ravensbergen (as Annie Cook / in front), Cheri Maracle (as Veronique St. Pierre / back head down), Tantoo Cardinal (as Pelajia Patchnose), Tiffany Ayalik (as Zhaboonigan Peterson - head in lap), and Tracey Nepinak (as Philomena Moosetail)  in The Rez Sisters by Tomson Highway / Photos by David Cooper / <a href="http://www.belfry.bc.ca/the-rez-sisters/" rel="nofollow">www.belfry.bc.ca/the-rez-sisters/</a>
Waawaate Fobister (as Nanabush) in The Rez Sisters by Tomson Highway / Photos by David Cooper / <a href="http://www.belfry.bc.ca/the-rez-sisters/" rel="nofollow">www.belfry.bc.ca/the-rez-sisters/</a>
Tantoo Cardinal (Pelajia Patchnose)
Left to right - Reneltta Arluk (as Emily Dictionary), Lisa C. Ravensbergen (as Annie Cook), Cheri Maracle (as Veronique St. Pierre), Tasha Faye Evans (as Marie Adele Starblanket), Tantoo Cardinal (as Pelajia Patchnose), Tiffany Ayalik (as Zhaboonigan Peterson), and Tracey Nepinak (as Philomena Moosetail) in The Rez Sisters by Tomson Highway / Photos by David Cooper / <a href="http://www.belfry.bc.ca/the-rez-sisters/" rel="nofollow">www.belfry.bc.ca/the-rez-sisters/</a>
Left to right - Tasha Faye Evans (as Marie Adele Starblanket), Tiffany Ayalik (as Zhaboonigan Peterson), Reneltta Arluk (as Emily Dictionary), Tracey Nepinak (as Philomena Moosetail), Cheri Maracle (as Veronique St. Pierre), Tantoo Cardinal (as Pelajia Patchnose), and Lisa C. Ravensbergen (as Annie Cook) in The Rez Sisters by Tomson Highway / Photos by David Cooper / <a href="http://www.belfry.bc.ca/the-rez-sisters/" rel="nofollow">www.belfry.bc.ca/the-rez-sisters/</a>
Cheri Maracle (Veronique St. Pierre)
Tracey Nepinak (Philomena Moosetail)
Tantoo Cardinal (Pelajia Patchnose)
Tiffany Ayalik (Zhaboonigan Peterson)
Tasha Faye Evans (Marie Adele Starblanket)
Waawaate Fobister (Nanabush)
Lisa C. Ravensbergen (Annie Cook)
Reneltta Arluk (Emily Dictionary)