Theatre on the Rink returns with traditional tale

Saskatoon’s Sum Theatre and La Troupe du Jour are brightening up winter with a brand-new production of Theatre on the Rink. Elder Brother and the Bison is a new on-ice performance based on a traditional tale shared by Indigenous storyteller Joseph Naytowhow.

“It’s about finding a story that touches people and is fun for the whole family.”

Mackenzie Dawson says Theatre on the Rink brings a little joy to the winter months. (Studio D Photography)

“We started with the story of Weesageechak who turns into a bison and is able to see the world through another’s eyes,” says Sum Theatre’s artistic director Mackenzie Dawson. “We’ve turned it into a multilingual, 15-minute performance. We can’t have people or or actors stuck outside for an hour. It’s about finding a story that touches people and is fun for the whole family.”

The story is of Elder Brother who wants to live a carefree life of a bison. Little does he know that bison have their own struggles too. It’s a tale that teaches empathy for others.  The show will tour to various outdoor rinks in Saskatoon, Prince Albert, Regina and North Battleford. It blends dialogue in English, French and Cree.

“I love these collaborations,” says Bruce McKay who acts in the show and is also artistic director of La Troupe du Jour. “It’s just wonderful to see how theatrical practice and the choice of stories is being diversified from the theatre of my youth. This is truly a prairie story we are telling now, our audience can see themselves in it.”

“At recess the kids love to come watch.”

The cast has been rehearsing on the rink outside École Victoria School and it’s been generating a lot of excitement among the students.

Bruce McKay, Jesse Fulcher-Gagnon, Dean Stockdale, and Jolanta Bird (L-R) star in Theatre on the Rink. (Sum Theatre)

“There’s a tremendous novelty to it for me, as an actor, to perform on skates and at recess the kids love to come watch,” says McKay. “Even though they haven’t seen the full performance, they’re fascinated. I think they’re intrigued by the costumes, the music, the movement, it’s not something you get to see everyday.”

The last edition of Theatre on the Rink (2021) was performed in Saskatoon and Regina but always at the same rinks. This year, the tour is expanding for stops in Saskatoon, Regina, North Battleford and Prince Albert and will visit rinks in different parts of the community.

“There was a limit to how accessible a show in one place could be. That’s why we’re trying to get to different parts of the city,” says Dawson. “To be truly accessible, we’re taking theatre to where the people are.”



Elder Brother and the Bison / Le Frére aîné et les bisons

Saskatoon                    Jan. 25 – Feb. 3

Prince Albert              Jan. 31

Regina                          Feb. 1 – 2

North Battleford      Feb. 4

For the full schedule and more information, follow this link.