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 ComeauWahsontí:io KirbyKathleen MacLeanTara 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 mshipley@stratfordfestival.ca 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.


World Première

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


Administrative Director                                  Shelley Stevenson

Associate Director of Digital Content            Genna Dixon

Associate Technical Director                         David Campbell

Digital Producing Assistant                            Marie Fewer-Muncic


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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