Tomson Highway’s award-winning play The Rez Sisters to be staged May 2 and 3, 2013 by the Drama department, with Cliff Matias of the Red Hawk Dancers joining a Vassar student cast in three performances

The award-winning two-act play The Rez Sisters by Cree Canadian writer Tomson Highway melds the sometimes dark realities of life on a Canadian Indian reserve with humor and elements of Aboriginal spirituality. With dialogue that integrates English with the Cree and Ojibway languages, the play centers on an ensemble cast of seven women who dream of attending and winning "The Biggest Bingo in the World" in Toronto.

Cliff Matias of the Red Hawk Dancers will join a Vassar student cast in three performances of The Rez Sisters on Thursday, May 2, and Friday, May 3, in the Vogelstein Center for Drama and Film. Director Kathy Wildberger, a Vassar dance and drama lecturer, has incorporated dance theater elements into this special Department of Drama production, which will be presented on May 2 at 8:00pm and on May 3 at 5:30 and 9:00pm. All performances will be free and open to the public but reservations are required for assigned seating. To make reservations call the box office at (845) 437-5599 or e-mail

NOTE: Due to the adult content and material of this production, it is not intended for younger audiences members. Parental guidance is strongly suggested. If you have questions regarding this information, please call the box office.

The student cast includes Nadja Leonhard-Hooper ’15, Emily Nash ’13, Asia Howard ’16, Kalei Talwar ’13, Danielle Lemieux ’13, Francesca Calo ’13, Tessa Permar ’15, Timothy Magidson ’13, Lauren Huang ’15, Akaina Ghosh ’15, Steven Wolff ’14, Nick Corda ’14, Reeve Johnson ’14, and Sammi Katz ’14, and the assistant directors are Arianna Gass '13 and Justin Myhre '14.
Wildberger is a Senior Lecturer in Dance and Drama, and the Assistant Director of the Vassar Repertory Dance Theatre.

This production is made possible with support from the Beatrice Snyder Foundation Fund. The fund supports visiting performance artists, performances, and projects at Vassar that use theater to teach about different life perspectives and cultural diversity. The fund’s intent is to educate members of the Vassar community, promote understanding about differences, and encourage tolerance of others. 

About Tomson Highway

Tomson Highway is a Cree Indian born in Canada on the Manitoba/Nunavut border, and he earned degrees in music and English from the University of Western Ontario. Highway turned to writing plays after a career as a social worker, beginning in 1986 with The Rez Sisters, which became a hit across Canada and went on to the Edinburgh International Festival in 1988. In 1989 he published Dry Lips Oughta Move to Kapuskasing, which was the first Canadian play to receive a full production at Toronto's Royal Alexandra Theatre. His play Rose, written in 2000, features characters from these two previous plays. From 1986 to 1992 Highway was artistic director of Native Earth Performing Arts, Toronto's only professional Native theatre company at the time. In 1998 he published his first novel, Kiss of the Fur Queen, which was nominated for multiple awards and spent several weeks on Canadian bestseller lists. After a hiatus from plays Highway wrote Ernestine Shuswap Gets Her Trout in 2005. He is also the author of several award-nominated children’s books, active as a lecturer and pianist/songwriter, and writing his second novel.

About Cliff Matias

Cliff Matias currently serves as the director of the Redhawk Native American Arts Council, whose dance troupe members are artists and educators who have spent their lives learning cultural traditions and history from family members and tribal elders. As a Native American Taino/Kichwa performing artist, he has appeared live on such programs as Regis and Kelly, Good Day New York, and Good Morning America, and he has toured throughout the world as a featured hoop dancer and educator. His photojournalism has appeared in publications such as the New York Times Magazine, Time Out NY, USA Today, Native Peoples, and Indian Country Today, and been exhibited by numerous galleries and museums. His current photo project is Native in New York. He has served as a cultural director of the Title 9 Native American Education program of New York City and was a cultural interpreter for the National Museum of the American Indian. Matias is also a former co-host of the “Circle of Red Nations” radio program on WBAI-FM in New York. He is a nationally ranked professional triathlete, a bicycle racer, and a former Golden Gloves boxing champion.

Vassar College strives to make its events, performances, and facilities accessible to all. Individuals with disabilities requiring special accommodations must contact the Office of Campus Activities at least 48 hours in advance of an event, Mondays-Fridays, at (845) 437-5370. Without sufficient notice, appropriate space/and or assistance may not be available. For detailed information about accessibility to specific campus facilities, search for “campus accessibility information” on the Vassar homepage (

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Vassar College is a highly selective, coeducational, independent, residential, liberal arts college founded in 1861.

Posted by Office of Communications Monday, April 29, 2013