A Brief Interview with Renae Morriseau, director of God and the Indian

This interview originally appeared on the Native Earth Performing Arts blog and is republished with permission.

After directing the world premiere of God and The Indian in Vancouver in 2013, Renae Morriseau (Cree) returns to bring audiences the Toronto premiere, currently playing in Native Earth’s Aki Studio.

Originally from Manitoba, Renae is based now in Vancouver where she works to cultivate social justice, inclusiveness and community-building through her work in theatre. It’s these motivations that inspire Renae to help tell this heartbreaking story about Canada’s residential schools.

“It’s a story that needs to be told,” says Morriseau. “In our traditional ways the audience is then witnesses to share the story about this dark history about Canadian policy and legislation.

Morriseau hopes audiences from all backgrounds will come to see the production. “I think it’s important for all Canadians to see – Native or non-Native. People need to understand the impact that residential schools have had on my people – ‘my’ meaning all the different Nations across Turtle Island which is now called Canada,” Morriseau explains. “We’re talking seven generations of my people that have been impacted. With residential school survivors today, these stories help support the survivors to acknowledge the pain and loss of family and community.”

Morriseau is not the only member of the original Vancouver production working on the Toronto premiere; both designers (Lauchlin Johnston, Alex Denard) also returned to revisit the play.

However, this is anything but a remount, as Morriseau has had an opportunity to explore the work with a completely new cast, whom she describes as “talented, intuitive, adaptable and creative.” The Toronto premiere stars Toronto-based Thomas Hauff as Assistant Bishop George King, and Vancouver-based Lisa C. Ravensbergen (Ojibwe/Swampy Cree) as Johnny.

God and The Indian runs in Toronto May 2–17, and moves to Vancouver May 20–30, 2015.