The Rez Sisters Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:
This detailed literature summary also contains Bibliography and a Free Quiz on The Rez Sisters by Tomson Highway.
When The Rez Sisters was first performed in 1986, Canadian and American audiences took note of this new and offbeat play by Native North American playwright Tomson Highway. A Cree Native of Manitoba, Canada, Highway wanted to make life on the reservation (or 'the rez') seem "cool" and "show and celebrate what funky folk Canada's Indian people really are." His goals were met with this play, which received high praise (winning the Dora Mavor Award for best new play in Toronto's 1986-87 theater season and being named a runner-up for the Floyd F. Chalmers Award for the outstanding Canadian play of 1986). The Rez Sisters also proved to be a commercial success, playing to sold-out audiences during a cross-Canada tour from October to February of 1988. Audiences found Highway's portrait of seven "rez sisters" to be, as William Peel called them in Canadian Theatre Review, "a striking cast of characters who reveal both blemishes and beauty" and who "possess, on the whole, great human dignity."
The play spans a summer in 1986, when seven women (all related by birth or marriage) decide to travel to Toronto to participate in "THE BIGGEST BINGO IN THE WORLD." Each woman offers the audience a different attitude toward life on the reservation as well as their individual dreams of escaping it. From Pelajia Patchnose, who hopes to win enough money to bring paved roads to "Wasy" (their reservation), to Emily Dictionary, an ex-biker whose rough-and-ready outlook creates some fticfcon m the group, these characters display the natural desire to rise above their surroundings and create a better world for their children and each other.
The Rez Sisters was lauded for its realistic portrayal of these distinct personalities. On a larger scale, Highway was hailed for creating a work that made Native North American life accessible as well as entertaining to a wide audience.
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Thomson Highway's The Rez Sisters Essay
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Thomson Highway's The Rez Sisters
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The play The Rez Sisters is written by one of Canada's most celebrated playwrights, Tomson Highway. Highway was born in 1951 in northwestern Manitoba. He went on to study at the University of Manitoba and graduated from the University of Western Ontario, with honors in Music and English. Native Literature is inspired by 'contemporary social problems facing native Canadians today; alcohol and drug abuse, suicide, wife battering, family violence, the racism of the justice system, loneliness, rejection, youth awareness, as well as modern-day environmental issues.';(P. 172 Native Literature in Canada.) Highway once said, 'We grew up with myths. They're the core of our identity as…show more content…
174 Native Literature in Canada.)
The play involves seven very lively and funny women, who live on the Wasaychigan Hill Indian Reserve, Manitoulin Island, Ontario. Their lives consist of knowing everybody's business. 'Nothing is private or sacred to them, they know each other's sex habits, health problems, family histories and daily routines.'; (P. 174 Native Literature in Canada.) When they play begins we are given an over view of what it like on the reserve by a pictorous description, 'from here I can see half of Manitoulin Island?I can see the chimneys, the tops of apple trees, the garbage heap behind Big Joey's dumpy little house?';(P. 2 The Rez Sisters) The reserve has a bit of everything, a good side and a bad side.
During the play we learn that the Rez Sisters make life bearable on the reserve by playing bingo. From this we learn about their lives and dreams. We learn what they want individually in life, and where they would go and what they would do if they had the opportunity. The play gives the reader in sight to what each of the woman want. Marie-Adele is a 39-year-old woman who says if she had the money she would, 'Buy an island.'; (P. 36 The Rez Sisters) I fell she wants this because she wants to escape from everybody, the reserve and from the regular population. Veronique is the mother of one of the other characters in the play, Zahaboonigan, who is mentally disabled. Veronique wants to buy