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God and the Indian

God and the Indian
Your Price: $17.95 CDN
Author: Drew Hayden Taylor
Publisher: Talonbooks
Format: Softcover
# of Pages: 96
Pub. Date: 2014
ISBN-10: 0889228442
ISBN-13: 9780889228443
Cast Size: 1 female, 1 male

About the Play:

God and the Indian is a full-length drama by Drew Hayden Taylor. While panhandling outside a coffee shop, a Cree woman is shocked to recognize a face from her childhood spent in a residential school. Desperate to hear him acknowledge the terrible abuse inflicted on her and other children at the school, she follows the Anglican minister to his office and confronts him. God and the Indian, by celebrated Aboriginal playwright Drew Hayden Taylor, explores what is possible when the abused meets the abuser and is given a free forum for expression.

God and the Indian explores the aftermath of Canada's church-run residential school system. George King is going places. A Cree woman, who calls herself Johnny Indian, is haunted by where she's been. King is celebrating his appointment as an assistant bishop in the Anglican church. Johnny is a residential school survivor. She remembers King who once taught at a residential school she attended four decades earlier. Johnny confronts King shortly after a celebration of his appointment. Inside King's office, Johnny's memories are fluid, shifting, and her voice cracks with raw emotion. She alleges he sexually assaulted her when she was a student. Johnny lives on the street, drinks and lost care of her child who was born with fetal alcohol syndrome. She wants King to acknowledge what happened in the past. Is the bishop actually guilty of what she claims, or has her ability to recollect been altered by poverty, abuse, and starvation experienced on the streets? Can her memories be trusted? Is King, who participated in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, denying something he did? Who is responsible for what?  Loosely based on Death and the Maiden by Chilean playwright Ariel Dorfman, God and the Indian identifies the ambiguities that frame past traumatic events.

God and the Indian premiered in 2013 at the Firehall Arts Centre in Vancouver with the great Tantoo Cardinal as Johnny. Since then it was performed in 2015 by Native Earth Performing Arts at the Aki Studio Theatre in Toronto, and in 2019 at The Sault Community Theatre in Sault Saint Marie, Ontario.

Cast: 1 female, 1 male

What people say:

"There's truth and there's reconciliation, but what about good old-fashioned revenge? … God and the Indian is a departure for Taylor, known for his earthy, accessible and occasionally outrageous sense of humour. His past work has been primarily comic, his Blues Quartet series of plays penned specifically as a way to counter a preponderance of 'tragic' or 'stoic' portrayals of Canada's First Nations people. … Though it toys with revenge tragedy, God and the Indian ultimately shares in the purpose of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada that is winding down its work the day after the play closes in Vancouver. It's fuelled by the desire for the stories of residential schools to be shared and listened to and for what happened to be remembered – and for bystanders as well as perpetrators to accept responsibility, and accept that responsibility does not end with official apologies and photo ops." — Globe & Mail

"Taylor's script digs deep into the uncomfortable side of reconciliation, questioning the worth of official apologies and asking who gets left out of the official processes. … The humour can be hard to connect with, coming as it does amid stories of trauma and abuse, but it feels true to the character. … It's not a script that pins things down neatly, preferring to revel in the ambiguity of memory, forcing the audience to interrogate who they believe and why. Is Johnny mixing up the terrible events of her childhood or is the assistant bishop lying? … The story becomes a kind of endless dance of guilt and trauma that can be overwhelming for an audience hoping for a clear resolution. For those who are wrought by the experience, support workers from the Indian Residential School Survivors Society attend every show. For the rest of us, these are the kind of stories we need to hear over and over, no matter how uncomfortable they might be." — Vancouver Sun

"A respectful treatment of one of the most painful chapters in Canadian history … We need to hear the stories Taylor is telling in God and the Indian." — Georgia Straight

"A moving and meaningful reconciliation drama, God and the Indian asks powerful questions and doesn't give easy answers." — PRISM Magazine

About the Playwright:

Drew Hayden Taylor one of Canada's best known and most prolific Indigenous writers. An Ojibway born on Curve Lake First Nation near Peterborough, Ontario, he has worn many hats in his literary career, from performing stand-up comedy at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., to being Artistic Director of Canada's premiere Aboriginal theatre company, Native Earth Performing Arts. He has been an award-winning playwright (with productions of his work in Canada, the US, and Europe), a journalist/columnist (appearing regularly in several Canadian newspapers and magazines), short-story writer, novelist, television scriptwriter, and documentary filmmaker.

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