While panhandling outside a coffee shop, Johnny, a Cree woman who lives on the streets, is shocked to recognize a face from her childhood, which was spent in a First Nations residential school. Desperate to hear the man acknowledge the terrible abuse he inflicted on her and other children at the school, Johnny follows Anglican bishop George King to his office to confront him. Inside King’s office, Johnny’s memories are fluid, shifting, and her voice cracks with raw emotion. Is the bishop actually guilty of what she claims, or has her ability to recollect been altered by poverty, abuse, and starvation experienced on the streets? Can her memories be trusted? Who is responsible for what? At its core, God and the Indian, by celebrated Aboriginal playwright Drew Hayden Taylor, explores the complex process of healing through dialogue. Loosely based on Death and the Maiden by Chilean playwright Ariel Dorfman, the play identifies the ambiguities that frame past traumatic events. Against the backdrop of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which has facilitated the recent outpouring of stories from First Nations residential school survivors across the country, the play explores what is possible when the abused meets the abuser and is given a free forum for expression.
Ojibway writer Drew Hayden Taylor lives on the Curve Lake Reserve in Ontario. Hailed by the Montreal Gazette as one of Canada’s leading Native dramatists, he writes for the screen as well as the stage and contributes regularly to North American Native periodicals and national newspapers. His plays have garnered many prestigious awards, and his beguiling and perceptive storytelling style has enthralled audiences in North America, Europe, and Australia. Among Taylor’s many awards are the Canada Council Victor Martyn Lynch-Staunton Award for Theatre (2009); the Governor General’s Award for Drama (nominee, 2006), In a World Created by a Drunken God; the Siminovitch Prize in Theatre (nominee, 2005); James Buller Aboriginal Theatre Award for Playwright of the Year (1997), Only Drunks and Children Tell the Truth; and the Dora Mavor Moore Award for Outstanding New Play, Small Theatre Division (1996), Only Drunks and Children Tell the Truth.