The best Indigenous plays that give the audience a window into the people and community

Drew Hayden Taylor Author Of The Night Wanderer
By Drew Hayden Taylor

Who am I?

Drew Hayden Taylor is an award-winning playwright, novelist, journalist, and filmmaker. Born and raised on the Curve Lake First Nation in Ontario (Anishnawbe), Drew has had over a hundred productions of his plays and enjoys spreading the gospel of Indigenous literature across the world. 


I wrote...

The Night Wanderer

By Drew Hayden Taylor,

Book cover of The Night Wanderer

What is my book about?

Nothing ever happens on the Otter Lake reservation. But when 16-year-old Tiffany discovers her father is renting out her room, she’s deeply upset. Sure, their guest is polite and keeps to himself, but he’s also a little creepy. 

The mysterious Pierre L’Errant is actually a vampire, returning to his tribal home after centuries spent in Europe. But Tiffany has other things on her mind: her new boyfriend is acting weird, disputes with her father are escalating, and her estranged mother is starting a new life with somebody else. Tiffany threatens drastic measures and flees into the bush. There, in the midnight woods, a chilling encounter with L’Errant changes everything... A mesmerizing blend of Gothic thriller and modern coming-of-age novel, The Night Wanderer is unlike any other vampire story.

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The books I picked & why

The Rez Sisters

By Tomson Highway,

Book cover of The Rez Sisters

Why did I love this book?

Perhaps one of the most seminal plays to come out of the First Nations community, if not the Canadian theatre community in general. It starts off with the simplest of plots, seven Indigenous women plan to leave their community on Manitoulin Island to participate in the world's largest bingo game in Toronto. It’s funny, tragic, and a wonderful introduction to the colourful world which we come from. 

By Tomson Highway,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Rez Sisters as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winner of the Dora Mavor Moore Award for Best New Play

Nominated for the Governor General's Award

This award-winning play by Native playwright Tomson Highway is a powerful and moving portrayal of seven women from a reserve attempting to beat the odds by winning at bingo. And not just any bingo. It is THE BIGGEST BINGO IN THE WORLD and a chance to win a way out of a tortured life.

The Rez Sisters is hilarious, shocking, mystical and powerful, and clearly establishes the creative voice of Native theatre and writing in Canada today.


Almighty Voice and His Wife

By Daniel David Moses,

Book cover of Almighty Voice and His Wife

Why did I love this book?

A historical play that tells the story of a single Cree warrior doing battle with the Canadian military. Each of the two acts approaches the story differently. The first is more linear and poetic, the second more lyrical and surreal. Many have said they loved the first act and hated the second. And vice versa. Whatever you may feel, an excellent exploration of colonization as seen through the eyes of a poet.

By Daniel David Moses,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Almighty Voice and His Wife as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A modern classic about the place of First Nations people in Canada.


Copper Thunderbird

By Marie Clements,

Book cover of Copper Thunderbird

Why did I love this book?

An amazing play about an amazing man, artist Norval Morrisseau. Surreal and yet very real, the play deals with three very important periods in this groundbreaking artist's life as he created a whole genre of Canadian art. The audience is given a window into the man's highs and lows, and how in the end, he became rose above it all and became a legend.

By Marie Clements,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Copper Thunderbird as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Copper Thunderbird is a play on canvases based on the life of Norval Morrisseau. Inside the power-lines which Morrisseau boldly defined in his art were the colours he experienced between his Ojibwa cosmology, his life on the street, and his spiritual and philosophical transformations to become the Father of Contemporary Native Art and a Grand Shaman. Appearing simultaneously in this multi-layered drama as a small boy, a young warrior and an old man, Morrisseau confronts his many selves over the Faustian destiny he encountered during his vision quest—a momentary terror that led to a life wracked by both triumph and…


Where the Blood Mixes

By Kevin Loring,

Book cover of Where the Blood Mixes

Why did I love this book?

An amazing play that explores the repercussions of Residential schools on the Indigenous population, and how its effects are frequently intergenerational. Winner of Canada’s Governor General’s Award for Best Drama, this play spares no one as it sheds light on the damage and healing happening in Indigenous communities across the country. 

By Kevin Loring,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Where the Blood Mixes as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Where the Blood Mixes is meant to expose the shadows below the surface of the author’s First Nations heritage, and to celebrate its survivors. Though torn down years ago, the memories of their Residential School still live deep inside the hearts of those who spent their childhoods there. For some, like Floyd, the legacy of that trauma has been passed down through families for generations. But what is the greater story, what lies untold beneath Floyd’s alcoholism, under the pain and isolation of the play’s main character?

Loring’s title was inspired by the mistranslation of the N’lakap’mux (Thompson) place name…


The Berlin Blues

By Drew Hayden Taylor,

Book cover of The Berlin Blues

Why did I love this book?

Many of the plays written by Indigenous playwrights are usually dark and critical. This play is a little different. It’s an unabashed comedy celebrating the Indigenous sense of humour. Essentially, the play is about two German entrepreneurs who travel to a First Nations community planning to build the world’s largest Native theme park, called Ojibway world. The play deals with stereotypes and the global marketing of culture. 

By Drew Hayden Taylor,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Berlin Blues as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A consortium of German developers shows up on the fictional Otter Lake Reserve with a seemingly irresistible offer to improve the local economy: the creation of “Ojibway World,” a Native theme park designed to attract European tourists, causing hilarious personal and political divisions within the local community.

The Berlin Blues concludes Drew Hayden Taylor’s Blues quartet, showcasing contemporary stereotypes of First Nations people, including a fair number that originate from Indigenous communities themselves, to the often outraged delight of his international audiences.

Yet Europeans and other ethnic groups are not exempt from Taylor’s incisive but good-humoured caricatures. Central to the…


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