Sisters In Solace: A product of cooperation
Sisters In Solace, a play that pays homage to the Native soldiers of Six Nations and their non-Native allies from the Brant County and Brantford area during the First World War was performed on November 5 and 6 at the Sanderson Centre in downtown Brantford. The production featured collaborative effort by actors, writers and artists from Brantford and Six Nations. Sisters In Solace was written by Vincent Ball, a journalist with the Brantford Expositor with the guidance and consultation of Cheyenne Williams, a Cayuga member of Six Nations.
“This all started from the work we did on the play Veteran of Vimy where we saw a lot of Six Nations people working with non-Indigenous people to stage a production. We saw all this activity with everyone at Veteran of Vimy last year and we said that this is what the Brant Threatre Workshops is all about,” commented Ball.
He explained that as he wrote Sisters In Solace, he collaborated with Six Nations members to centre a story around the Battle of Hill 70 during the Passchendaele campaign in August 1917. The battle was memorable as Six Nation soldiers played a significant part in it.
“This historic battle reflects the connection we wanted to show. You have indigenous people, nonindigenous people, people from Brantford, Brant County and Six Nations all together trying to fight and survive,” said Ball.
Williams worked closely with Ball to provide guidance and consultation on the writing of the play.
“We did a lot of work over the year to get this done. It was important to us because we wanted to get our Six Nations perspective into Vincent’s writing,” said Williams.
She also played the lead female role of Anna Mae alongside Brandy Goodnough who also played the female lead role of Martha. The leading male role of Arn was played by Andrew Hill and main character Mac featured acting by Nick King.
Other cast members for Sisters In Solace included Sabastien Cudney, Marie Coilko, Maya Yacoub, Barb Miller, Lois Porter, Stephanie George, RJ Borg and Brett Miller.
A ceremonial greeting before the play and performances during the production were provided by traditional Six Nations singer Eli Thomas.
Williams added that the play and the inclusion of a mixed member cast of indigenous and nonindigenous actors and actresses is helping to bridge the gap between their communities. “The work I have been doing with the Brant Theatre Workshops has allowed me to meet many people and I was surprised to discover that many of them have not been to our reserve. It feels good to share our culture and to work with our neighbours in remembering our historic connections,” said Williams.
Her son Austin Silversmith, 11 years of age, played the part of a young Arn.
“This was exciting as I’ve never been on a stage this big before. It was a lot of fun and I want to do more acting” said Silversmith.
Cordelia McDonald, an Oneida member of Six Nations played the part of Dot in the play.
“I have been acting since I was seven and it felt good to be on a big and beautiful stage. It’s also been special for me to work with everyone on so many plays about our Native culture,” said 14 year old McDonald.
Peter Miur directed Sisters In Solace. Stage Management was led by Neo Moore and the design was provided by Gerry Lafleur.
“This was a great opportunity for our actors as they were able to perform in such a prestigious and historic venue,” said Miur.
The opening night of the play was performed in the evening of November 5 and a second showing was staged on November 6 in the afternoon for local students.