Books Backstage

The Prince George Public Library and Theatre NorthWest have partnered to connect library patrons and theatre goers with resources on themes addressed within the plays performed during Theatre NorthWest’s 2016/2017 season. In collaboration with Theatre NorthWest’s artistic director, PGPL librarians will provide recommendations of fiction, non-fiction, DVDs and other materials that may enrich the audiences’ experience of the performances. Book lists will be posted at least one month in advance of each play.

Book list to accompany Isitwendam (An Understanding) , which runs May 4-7, 2017

Kiss of the Fur Queen by Tomson Highway
Born into a magical Cree world in snowy northern Manitoba, Champion and Ooneemeetoo Okimasis are all too soon torn from their family and thrust into the hostile world of a Catholic residential school. Their language is forbidden, their names are changed to Jeremiah and Gabriel, and both boys are abused by priests.

As young men, estranged from their own people and alienated from the culture imposed upon them, the Okimasis brothers fight to survive. Wherever they go, the Fur Queen--a wily, shape-shifting trickster--watches over them with a protective eye. For Jeremiah and Gabriel are destined to be artists. Through music and dance they soar.

Secret Path by Gord Downie and Jeff Lamire
Secret Path is a ten song digital download album by Gord Downie with a graphic novel by illustrator Jeff Lemire that tells the story of Chanie "Charlie" Wenjack, a twelve-year-old boy who died in flight from the Cecilia Jeffrey Indian Residential School fifty years ago.

Chanie, misnamed Charlie by his teachers, was a young boy who died on October 22, 1966, walking the railroad tracks, trying to escape from the Cecilia Jeffrey Indian Residential School to return home. Chanie's home was 400 miles away. He didn't know that. He didn't know where it was, nor how to find it, but, like so many kids - more than anyone will be able to imagine - he tried. Chanie's story is Canada's story. We are not the country we thought we were. History will be re-written. We are all accountable. Secret Path acknowledges a dark part of Canada's history--the long suppressed mistreatment of Indigenous children and families by the residential school system--with the hope of starting our country on a road to reconciliation. Every year as we remember Chanie Wenjack, the hope for Secret Path is that it educates all Canadians young and old on this omitted part of our history, urging our entire nation to play an active role in the preservation of Indigenous lives and culture in Canada.

The Rez Sisters by Tomson Highway
This award-winning play by playwright Tomson Highway is a powerful and moving portrayal of seven women from a reserve attempting to beat the odds by winning at bingo. And not just any bingo. It is THE BIGGEST BINGO IN THE WORLD and a chance to win a way out of a tortured life. The Rez Sisters is hilarious, shocking, mystical and powerful, and clearly establishes the creative voice of Indigenous theatre and writing in Canada today.
Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese
With compassion and insight, the late author Richard Wagamese traces through his fictional characters the decline of a culture and a cultural way. For Saul, taken forcibly from the land and his family when he's sent to residential school, salvation comes for a while through his incredible gifts as a hockey player. But in the harsh realities of 1960s Canada, he battles obdurate racism and the spirit-destroying effects of cultural alienation and displacement. "Indian Horse" unfolds against the bleak loveliness of northern Ontario, all rock, marsh, bog and cedar.

Current Play:

Isitwendam (An Understanding) , by Meegwun Fairbrother, in Association with Bound to Create Theatre

An incredibly powerful and accessible play about the collateral damage of the Residential School system in Canada that is currently preparing for a world tour. Having TNW premiere this piece is a very exciting venture for us. In this moving play Brandon White is a half white, half Ojibway Canadian that believes in the conservative government and thinks he has all the answers, understanding ‘both sides of the coin’! But when Indian Affairs sends him on a job to discredit a Residential School survivor Brandon is thrown into a world that challenges everything he has ever believed in. Watch as this one person show mesmerizes with its exciting and innovative technical presentation and its powerful and forward thinking message of togetherness and hope.

Check out Theatre NorthWest’s upcoming productions here!