Introduction & Overview of The Rez Sisters by Tomson Highway

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The Rez Sisters Summary & Study Guide Description

The Rez Sisters Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

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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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The Rez Sisters from Drama for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.