For our cross-nation partnership with Native Earth Performing Arts, we’re bringing Toronto and Vancouver audiences Drew Hayden Taylor’s God and The Indian, in Toronto’s Aki Studio May 2 – 17, 2015. Following the Toronto premiere, the production returns to the Firehall where it runs May 20 – 30, 2015.
In Taylor’s two-hander, directed by Renae Morriseau, Toronto-based actor Thomas Hauff takes on the role of Assistant Bishop George King. King is caught off-guard by the sudden arrival of Johnny (played by Lisa C. Ravensbergen), a Cree woman who follows him after recognizing King from her childhood in a residential school.
He’s confronted by someone who believes something about himself that he’s doesn’t believe to be true…
Thomas Hauff has worked professionally as an actor for most of his life, appearing on stages across Canada and in film, television and commercials. He previously performed in Weesageechak Begins to Dance workshops for Yvette Nolan’s Annie Mae’s Movement and Stretching Hide by Dale Lakevold.
In preparing for his role in God and The Indian, Hauff found himself excited by the doubt presented in the script. “[Assistant Bishop King] is a man who is caught in a difficult situation. He’s confronted by someone who believes something about himself that he’s doesn’t believe to be true and he has to convince her otherwise.”
Though the last of the residential schools closed in 1996, Taylor’s God and The Indian brings attention to the issues still affecting Indigenous people in Canada today. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada indicates there are still an estimated 80,000 former students who are living and dealing with the impact of a childhood spent in an institution that sought to eliminate Indigenous culture.
“Anything that starts the conversation about this situation and the effects on people of the residential schools is great.”
The rehearsal process has been illuminating for Hauff. “It’s been exciting and challenging to explore with everyone. Lisa and Renae both bring a perspective that I don’t have,” he says. “It’s really interesting to sit back and listen to them discuss their ideas of the show. I’m learning from the experience.”
And that is exactly what Hauff hopes audiences will get from the show. “I hope they ask questions. Anything that starts the conversation about this situation and the effects on people of the residential schools is great.”
Audiences looking to have a discussion about the issues addressed in the play are invited to stay after the Thursday May 21 + 28, 8pm performances for artist talkbacks. God and The Indian runs in Toronto May 2 – 17, and moves to Vancouver May 20 – 30, 2015. Click here for more information on the run at Native Earth Performing Arts in Toronto and read their blog (where this post originally appeared).