1939 available for streaming worldwide
New work led by young, Indigenous artists now available to stream at home and in classrooms
Stratford, ON… The Stratford Festival’s filmed performance of 1939 will debut for streaming worldwide on Monday, March 13. This powerful new work is a Stratford Festival commission written by Jani Lauzon and Kaitlyn Riordan, directed for the stage by Lauzon and for the screen by Nicholas Shields.
Richard Comeau (centre) as Joseph Summers with (from left) Tara Sky as Beth Summers, John Wamsley as Jean Delorme, Kathleen MacLean as Susan Blackbird and Wahsontí:io Kirby as Evelyne Rice in 1939.
The production is led by five Indigenous actors, Richard Comeau, Wahsontí:io Kirby, Kathleen MacLean, Tara Sky and John Wamsley, and also features Stratford Festival stalwarts Sarah Dodd, Jacklyn Francis and Mike Shara.
Born of both family legacy and the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, 1939 has been guided by Indigenous Elders, Survivors and ceremony throughout.
1939 takes audiences to a fictional Residential School in Northern Ontario where, anticipating a visit by King George VI, an English teacher enlists her students in a production of All’s Well That Ends Well. But her rigid ideas of how Shakespeare should be performed are challenged as her Indigenous students start finding parallels between themselves and the characters in the play – and, far from letting themselves be defined by colonial expectations, set out to make Shakespeare’s bittersweet comedy defiantly their own.
“Although this is not the first play that has been written about the incredible resilience of Residential School survivors, what differs now,” says Lauzon, “is that organizations like Stratford are lending support and curious audiences are coming to witness and listen. We are now able to create theatre with highly trained Indigenous actors, together with spiritual support from Elders and Knowledge Keepers. We are having conversations around Cultural Intimacy and using circular communication to transform the way we create theatre.” With all of this coming together, Lauzon sees that “the change that so many have fought for is finally happening.”
1939 joins a collection of Indigenous works curated from across the country and made available to teachers and students through Classroom Connect, launched in late 2022 on the Stratford Festival’s streaming platform, Stratfest@Home. Other works in the collection include Th’owxiya: The Hungry Feast Dish (Axis Theatre), Kwi’ah: The Girl Who Heals (Axis Theatre), Florent Vollant: I Dream in Innu (National Film Board of Canada) and The War Being Waged (Prairie Theatre Exchange).
For more information, visit stratfordfestival.ca. Covering media may contact Melissa Mae Shipley via email at firstname.lastname@example.org for screener access. View the trailer at YouTube.com/StratfordFestival.
Subscribe to Stratfest@Home for just $10 a month and gain access to the best in Canadian digital theatrical productions, including the Stratford Festival’s acclaimed Shakespeare films, selected productions from the 2021 and 2022 seasons, original digital content and selected events from the Festival’s Meighen Forum, along with documentaries and original content from around the world.
Production support is generously provided by Karon C. Bales & Charles E. Beall and by M. Fainer. Support for the creation of 1939 is generously provided by the Foerster Bernstein New Play Development Program.
Support for Stratford Festival On Film is generously provided by The John and Myrna Daniels Charitable Foundation, Laura Dinner & Richard Rooney, The Jenkins Family Foundation, The Henry White Kinnear Foundation, Elizabeth Lang and Family, Ophelia & Mike Lazaridis, The Catherine and Maxwell Meighen Foundation, Sandra & Jim Pitblado, The Slaight Family Foundation, Robert & Jacqueline Sperandio, and an anonymous donor.
A Stratford Festival Commission
By Jani Lauzon and Kaitlyn Riordan
CAST (in alphabetical order)
Richard Comeau Joseph Summers
Sarah Dodd Sian Ap Dafydd
Jacklyn Francis Madge Macbeth
Wahsontí:io Kirby Evelyne Rice
Kathleen MacLean Susan Blackbird
Mike Shara Father Callum Williams
Tara Sky Beth Summers
John Wamsley Jean Delorme
Co-Playwright Jani Lauzon
Co-Playwright Kaitlyn Riordan
Director Jani Lauzon
Set Designer Joanna Yu
Costume Designer Asa Benally
Lighting Designer Louise Guinand
Composer and Sound Designer Wayne Kelso
Dramaturge Jessica Carmichael
Research Dramaturge Sorouja Moll
Fight Director Geoff Scovell
Elder Script Consultants Pauline Shirt, Shirley Horn, Edna Manitowabi, Elizabeth Stevens
Indigenous Community Ambassador Summer Bressette
Kanien’kéha Translator Wahsontí:io Kirby
Anishinaabemowin Translator Waawaate Fobister with Roger Fobister Sr.
Spiritual and Traditional Medicine Advisor Pauline Shirt
Cultural Liaison Phil Davis
Assistant Director desirée leverenz
Assistant Set and Costume Designer Victoria Spain
Assistant Lighting Designer Hannah Kirby
Assistant Sound Designer Olivia Wheeler
Fight Captain Richard Comeau
Reflection Space Facilitator Kelly Fran Davis
“Fading Memories of Home”,
Reflection Space Art Installation by Tom Wilson
Stage Manager Bona Duncan
Assistant Stage Manager Ada Aguilar
Assistant Stage Manager Ken James Stewart
Production Assistant Carolyn Bayley
Production Stage Managers Bona Duncan, Bruno Gonsalves, Cynthia Toushan
Technical Director Eleanor Creelman
Assistant Technical Director Zach Fedora
FILM PRODUCTION: STRATFORD FESTIVAL
Administrative Director Shelley Stevenson
Associate Director of Digital Content Genna Dixon
Associate Technical Director David Campbell
Digital Producing Assistant Marie Fewer-Muncic
FILM PRODUCTION: SUEDE PRODUCTIONS
Directed for Film Nicholas Shields
Camera Operators Cameron Hucker, Jordan Krug, Michael Evans, Aaron Hucker, Chris Pickle, Sikandar Saleem, Leo Cardelli, Henry Nadasdi
Editor Jordan Krug
Editing Assistants Aaron Hucker, Jett Shields
Sound Mixing Jordan Krug
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