Gabriel Dumont’s Wild West Show is a flamboyant epic, constructed as a series of tableaux, about the struggles of the Métis in the Canadian West. It is a multilayered and entertaining saga with a rodeo vibe, loosely based on Buffalo Bill’s legendary outdoor travelling show. In 1885, following the hanging of his friend Louis Riel, bison hunter Gabriel Dumont fled to the United States. There he was recruited by the legendary Buffalo Bill, founder of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West, a gigantic outdoor travelling show that re-enacted life in the American West. It made a huge impression on Dumont, and he dreamed of putting together a similar show to tell the story of the struggle of Canada’s Métis to reclaim their rights.
The creative team behind Gabriel Dumont’s Wild West Show – including ten authors, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, French- and English-speaking men and women – brings Dumont’s dream to life in a captivating, joyously anachronistic saga. The theatrical version of Gabriel Dumont’s Wild West Show presented by the National Arts Centre was one of a number of exceptional projects funded through the Canada Council for the Arts’ New Chapter initiative. (Adapted from nac-cna.ca/en/wildwestshow.
About the authors
Jean Marc Dalpé
The tight and chiselled language of Jean Marc Dalpé allows those to speak who otherwise cannot. With simple words and powerful means, he breathes life into complex characters. His dramatic structures are relentless mechanisms born of the very texture of the universes he invents. In his theatre there is no judgment; only compassion.
Actor, poet and playwright, Jean-Marc Dalpé has twice been the recipient of a Governor General’s Award, for his plays Le Chien and Il n’y a que l’amour.
Linda Gaboriau is an award-winning literary translator based in Montreal. Her translations of plays by Quebec’s most prominent playwrights have been published and produced across Canada and abroad. In her work as a literary manager and dramaturge, she has directed numerous translation residencies and international exchange projects. She was the founding director of the Banff International Literary Translation Centre. Most recently she won the 2010 Governor General’s Award for Forests, her translation of the play by Wajdi Mouawad.
Yvette Nolan is a playwright, dramaturge, and director. In 1996, she was the Aboriginal Writer-in-Residence at Brandon University, where she wrote the first draft of Annie Mae’s Movement. Her other plays include BLADE, Job’s Wife, Video, the libretto Hilda Blake, and the radio play Owen. She is also the editor of Beyond the Pale: Dramatic Writing from First Nations Writers and Writers of Colour and co-editor of Refractions: Solo and Refractions: Scenes. She was the president of Playwrights Union of Canada from 1998–2001, and of Playwrights Canada Press from 2003–2005. Born in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan to an Algonquin mother and an Irish immigrant father, raised in Winnipeg, Manitoba, she lived in the Yukon and Nova Scotia before moving to Toronto.
Originally from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Gilles Poulin-Denis is an actor, playwright, director, translator, and dramaturg. His first full-length play, Rearview, was presented in both French and English in Sudbury in 2016. Rearview is published by Dramaturges Éditeurs and was nominated in 2010 for the Governor General’s Literary Award. Wajdi Mouawad named Gilles as one of the resident playwrights at the National Arts Centre's Théâtre français, where he developed his play Dehors. Dehors was published by L’Instant-Scène in 2017. Gilles has collaborated on numerous devised pieces such as ishow, Après la Peur, and Gabriel Dumont's Wild West Show. Gilles is the artistic director of Productions 2PAR4 and currently lives in Vancouver.
Mansel Robinson’s plays have been produced across the country and include Colonial Tongues, Collateral Damage, The Heart As It Lived, Downsizing Democracy, Spitting Slag, Ghost Trains, and Street Wheat. Scorched Ice, a cold–war drama, was recently produced by Last Exit Theatre in Saskatoon. He has been nominated twice for Saskatchewan Book of the Year and is winner of the John V. Hicks Award and Geist Magazine&3146;s Award for Distance Writing. Robinson has been writer–in–residence at the Pierre Berton House in Dawson City, Yukon; Northern Light Theatre in Edmonton; at the University of Windsor; and at the Regina Public Library in 2005/06. Current projects include Bite the Hand, which was presented as a staged reading at the Saskatchewan Playwrights’ Centre’s 2005 Spring Festival of New Plays. He is also working on a satire about gangsters and academia. Originally from Chapleau, Northern Ontario, Robinson is based in Saskatoon.
Kenneth T. Williams is a Cree playwright, filmmaker and journalist from the George Gordon First Nation. His plays CafŽ Daughter, Thunderstick (Scirocco 2010), Bannock Republic (Scirocco 2011), Suicide Notes and Three Little Birds have been professionally produced across Canada. Gordon Winter had its world premiere in Saskatoon in 2010 as the opening play for Persephone TheatreÕs Deep End series. It then went on to further acclaim in May, 2012 when it was presented again at OttawaÕs Arts Court Theatre as part of the National Arts CentreÕs Prairie Scene festival. Thunderstick has recently been optioned as feature film project. In 2011, Gordon Winter was nominated for a Saskatoon and Area Theatre Award for outstanding playwriting and CafŽ Daughter won Bob Couchman Theatre Awards for outstanding production, direction and female performance in Whitehorse. HeÕs working on a new play, Deserters, which was presented at the 2011 Weesageechak Begins to Dance festival. He blogs about his playwriting adventures on his website feralplaywright.ca. He also teaches playwriting at the University of Saskatchewan. As well as writing plays, Kenneth has edited three series for television. He is the first Aboriginal writer to earn an M.F.A. in playwriting from the University of Alberta. He resides in Saskatoon.
“Really excellent. I laughed till I cried!”—Marilou Lamontagne, ICI Radio-Canada Ottawa-Gatineau
“[A] play that pleases, puzzles, and provokes, in a form that keeps shifting wildly from one moment to the next like a bucking bronco.”—J. Kelly Nestruck, Globe and Mail
“If Gabriel Dumont’s Wild West Show is so successful, while being funny and sad at the same time, it’s because the creative team did its research and listened to the communities involved in the rehabilitating of the figure of Gabriel Dumont. What takes shape here is a wave of madness and a rewriting of our national narrative.”—Maud Cucchi, JEU Revue de théâtre
“Gabriel Dumont’s Wild West Show is a crazed, fast-paced Métis 101 history lesson, in which acidity and humour deliver the story.”—Martin Vanasse, Radio-Canada
“Full of life, even hectic, filled with surprises, colours, humour, and an agenda that can only be endorsed.”—Marie-Claire Girard, HuffPost Québec
“[A] seamlessly cohesive narrative ... a zany form ... a phantasmagorical piece of pure entertainment ... a delirious blend of historical drama, musical, burlesque cabaret, hockey night, and TV quiz!”—Pierre-Alexandre Buisson, Bible urbaine
“Entertaining and informative, with a self-critical and self-deprecating humour, this gigantic historical fresco enters like a buffalo stampede and provides a breath of fresh air.”—Yanik Comeau, Théâtralités
“Between bursts of laughter (of the uneasy sort at times) and moments of lively emotion, Gabriel Dumont’s Wild West Show takes [us] on a journey up hill and down dale through the history of the Métis Resistances and tells an oft-forgotten part of our collective history.”—Valérie Lessard, Le Droit
“if we’re the wound, maybe Gabriel Dumont’s Wild West Show is the iodine.”—Cam Fuller, Saskatoon StarPhoenix
Other titles by Jean Marc Dalpé
Other titles by Yvette Nolan
New Essays on Canadian Theatre Volume 5
Indigenous Performance Culture
Indigenous Performance Culture
Almighty Voice and His Wife
Beyond the Pale, revised edition
Dramatic Writing from First Nations Writers and Writers of Colour