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Tuesday January 21, 2014 in Books
While panhandling outside a coffee shop, Johnny, a Cree woman who lives on the streets, is shocked to recognize a face from her childhood, which was spent in a residential school. Desperate to hear the man acknowledge the terrible abuse he inflicted on her and other children at the school, Johnny follows Anglican bishop George King to his office to confront him.
Inside King’s office, Johnny’s memories are fluid, shifting, and her voice cracks with raw emotion. 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? Who is responsible for what?
At its core, God and the Indian, by celebrated Aboriginal playwright Drew Hayden Taylor, explores the complex process of healing through dialogue. Loosely based on Death and the Maiden by Chilean playwright Ariel Dorfman, the play identifies the ambiguities that frame past traumatic events. Against the backdrop of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which has facilitated the recent outpouring of stories from residential school survivors across the country, the play explores what is possible when the abused meets the abuser and is given a free forum for expression.
Cast of 1 woman and 1 man.
Read an excerpt from this book on Meta-Talon.
ISBN 13: 9780889228443 | ISBN 10: 0889228442
5.5 W x 8.5 H inches | 96 pp pages
$16.95 CAN / $16.95 US
Backlist | Drama | Bisac: DRA013000
QUOTES OF NOTE
“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
“…an emotional experience. We witness an aboriginal woman, a survivor of abuse she endured while in the residential school system, face her abuser in his office. They engage in this highly tense argument that has crescendos and moments of total mental fatigue. And we, as the viewers, aren’t entirely sure of whose account we believe. Talking about the power of humour in the context of this play might seem a bit disjunctive. But in God and the Indian, humour is essential, powerful, and heartbreaking.”
About the ContributorsDrew Hayden Taylor
Hailed by the Montreal Gazette as one of Canada’s leading Native dramatists, Drew Hayden Taylor writes for the screen as well as the stage and contributes regularly to North American Native periodicals and national newspapers. His plays have garnered many prestigious awards, and his beguiling and perceptive storytelling style has enthralled audiences in Canada, the United States and Germany. One of his most established bodies of work includes what he calls the Blues Quartet, an ongoing, outrageous and often farcical examination of Native and non-Native stereotypes.
We gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Canada Council for the Arts; the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund (CBF); and the Province of British Columbia through the British Columbia Arts Council for our publishing activities.