Four important Indigenous Canadian plays you need to read

These four plays on the Indigenous experience—from historical to modern—are essential reads. Whether it’s Daniel David Moses’s absurdist take on a Cree couple’s journey, Keith Barker’s honest and ethereal story about missing and murdered Indigenous women, John Garfield Barlow’s darkly comedic tale about life on a reservation, or Yvette Nolan’s emotionally-charged saga of a post-apocalyptic civilization, there’s enough packed into these four books that will make a lasting impression.

Almighty Voice and His Wife cover image Photo of Daniel David Moses

Almighty Voice and His Wife by Daniel David Moses

A young couple woo and wed, but they’re Cree and it’s 1895, the first generation after the Riel Rebellion, and it’s suddenly hard for the people who followed the buffalo to live happily ever after. What are they going to do? It’s still a bit early to go into show business. Almighty Voice and His Wife shakes up a familiar story from the Saskatchewan frontier, reimagining it from the postmodern late twentieth century. The “renegade Indian story” transforms into both an eloquent tale of tragic love and an often hilarious, fully theatrical exorcism of the hurts of history; a modern classic about the place of First Nations people in Canada.

The Hours That Remain cover image Photo of Keith Barker

The Hours That Remain by Keith Barker

Denise has spent the last five years dedicated to uncovering the truth behind her sister Michelle’s disappearance. Haunted by loose ends, she begins seeing visions of Michelle, who gradually guides her in the right direction. As Denise’s marriage and sanity crumble around her, she remains committed to unearthing an unfathomable truth, and coming to terms with a painfully crucial realization—one she has been desperately avoiding.

Inspiration Point cover image Photo of John Garfield Barlow

Inspiration Point by John Garfield Barlow

Paul, Joseph, and Peter are stranded at Inspiration Point. With no one to call and nothing to do other than get high, the boys argue about life on a reservation and the growing struggle of a community threatened by internal and external assimilationist forces. Poised between hope and despair, each man faces how best to move beyond the past and adapt to a future in which cultural legacy seems destined to diminish. Symbolic and politically charged, Inspiration Point speaks about life on a small Maritime reservation and the constant struggle for cultural survival.

The Unplugging cover image Photo of Yvette Nolan

The Unplugging by Yvette Nolan

In a post-apocalyptic world, Bern and Elena are exiled from their village. Their crime? The two women are no longer of child-bearing age. In an instant, electricity all over the world stops flowing, and humanity is left in the dark. Bern and Elena, exiled from their village, trudge across the desolate, post-apocalyptic ruin. Relying upon traditional wisdom for their survival, they retreat from the remains of civilization to a frozen wooded landscape where they attempt to carry on after the end of the world. When a charismatic stranger from the village arrives seeking their aid, Bern and Elena must decide whether they will use their knowledge of the past to give the society that rejected them a chance at a future.

— Jessica Lewis, Sales and Marketing Coordinator, Playwrights Canada Press