They say that good writing stands up. I experienced that last night at Douglas College in New West when I went to see the play, The Rez Sisters by Thomson Highway, a full blood Cree from the village of Brochet in Northern Manitoba.
Highway wrote The Rez Sisters in 1986 and the award winner was his sixth play. He followed that up with Dry Lips Oughta Move to Kapuskasing, the only Canadian play to receive a full production and extended run at The Royal Alexandra Theatre in Toronto in 1990.
I remember seeing Thomson Highway at the Vancouver International Writer’s Festival in 1998 or 1999 when he was touring to promote his first novel, The Kiss of the Fur Queen. I vaguely recall that he was quite a vision on stage because I think he had on this leather coat with a big fur collar, kicking the drama up a notch. He was a great speaker. Very entertaining. Really funny. I’d never heard of him prior to seeing him there but I did buy his book, on the spot, afterwards because I think he still retains the record for me of being the best reader/performer of writing I’ve seen to date.
He is also an accomplished musician with a long list of other credits including: plays, musicals, numerous writer in residence stints, film and television documentaries, children’s books and awards including the Dora Mavor Moore Award for Best New Play and Best Production among many other nominations. In short, I think when God was handing out artistic ability, he got stuck on Thomson Highway.
The performing arts students at Douglas were lucky enough to meet the playwright in person when he dropped by in late October.
The Rez Sisters runs Nov. 9-17 at Laura C. Muir Performing Arts Theatre, Douglas College, 700 Royal Ave., New Westminster. Tickets ($8-$15) are available through the Massey Theatre, 604 521 5050.