By Josh Martin, Sports Editor
After bringing Dancing at Lughnasa to life in the Studio theatre last fall, director Deborah “Debz” Neville is preparing to show off her latest play production here at Douglas College—The Rez Sisters by Tomson Highway, which will be making its way on stage in the Laura C. Muir Theatre from November 9 to 17. This play will be the second play production that is being put on by the Theatre department here at Douglas, the first of which being Dangerous Corner, which comes out on November 2.
“[The Rez Sisters] is a dark comedy. It’s about seven sisters who live on a fictional pre-Ojibway reserve in Ontario. It is Tomson Highway’s entry point for Canadians into life on a reservation, and he does this by writing. Your average Canadian or Canadians who are unfamiliar with reserve life have a way in so that it’s not ‘so other’ or ‘so foreign’ so that we relate to First Nations women on a reserve, simply, easily. They’re very much like ourselves,” says Neville.
“[My initial vision] has developed a lot actually. We met local band chiefs and we’ve spoken to various other First Nations people who are attached to the college or to New Westminster or to Vancouver and we’ve learned so much about what it means to be First Nations in [many] different ways. But there is something different and something very culturally rich and there’s an honor there that we are really discovering. Something that was wiped out due to Canadian politics, and it’s very much in some case researching.”
Traditionally with plays in the Muir Theatre, the audience sat in their seats, but with The Rez Sisters Neville decided that she wanted to break that tradition and bring the audience up on to the stage to get right into the action. On stage will be seated risers that surround the reserve, giving that intimate and up close feel that the Studio theatre offers, and what Neville wants her audience to be a part of.
“When I read the play and when I did some research on Tomson Highway, I realized very much that the reservation was as much a character in the play or equally as important as the characters in the play—so the location was key. What I didn’t want was an audience that was stuck back looking, gazing upon the reservation, or the ‘rez,’ I wanted the audience to be in the reservation and the reservation to be in the audience. So we’ve brought everybody smack dab into the reserve… as close as we could get anyway.”
The Rez Sisters comes out November 9 in the Muir theatre at the New Westminster campus, and will run until November 17. Be sure to check it out!