Raven Brass & Jennica Grienke (l-r) star in the premiere of Shadows Among The Prairies. (Cory Standing / Gordon Tootoosis Nikaniwin Theatre)
It’s a family tragedy that has always stuck with her. In 2012, playwright Jennifer Dawn Bishop learned her aunt had been murdered and even before her father heard the news, he felt something was wrong.
“It’s a story I couldn’t shake. I woke up in the middle of the night and started writing.”
Playwright Jennifer Dawn Bishop explores the afterlife in Shadows Among the Prairies. (Marcel Petit)
“He was sitting in the living room, watching tv and, out of nowhere, he turned to my mom and said, ‘I haven’t talked to my sister in a long time’. He had a feeling,” says Bishop. “We found out later, that moment was right at the time she had passed. It’s a story I couldn’t shake. I woke up in the middle of the night and started writing.”
Shadows Among the Prairies is the story of Elaine a woman who wakes up in a world in limbo, forced to deal with the life she lived, the choices she’s made and find peace. Along the way, she meets others stuck in the in-between and their stories become intwined.
Jennica Grienke says the story grabbed her right from the start.
“It has drama, suspense and even though it deals with death and tragedy, there’s a lot of humour and heart.” Grienke says, “When I read the script last year, I immediately fell in love with the piece.”
This world premiere marks a return to the live stage for Gordon Tootoosis Nīkānīwin Theatre and will be performed on the Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan festival stage. The company has brought in theatre veteran Carol Greyeyes to direct.
“Having Carol agree to direct was phenomenal,” says Bishop. “She’s a dreamer and told me what she imagined when she read the script. I’ve admired her work for a long time and having her agree to be part of the team is a dream.”
Bishop hopes this production leaves people thinking about their own lives and the people they love.
“We need to think about how we treat each other and the impact we have,” she explains. “It’s about how we want to remember those who have gone before. Everything in this play is done with a touch of love, family, and friendship. I did it to remember my auntie.”
Shadows Among The Prairies
Sept. 10 – 18, 2021
Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan Festival Site
Tickets: $15 – $20
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