Called “the Canadian arts surprise of the year” by The Globe and Mail, Cliff’s brilliant play The Land Acknowledgement, or As You Like It will dazzle and engage you as only the best theatre can. Following two sold-out runs at Mirvish Theatre, don’t miss your chance to see what the Globe and Mail calls: “A liberating night at the theatre. Brilliantly honest and funny. Critics Pick.”
In September 2021, just as theatres were starting to reopen after the long pandemic hiatus, Crow’s Theatre, one of the city’s most eclectic and adventuresome companies, decided to begin with an audacious new show. They said very little about it. Only that it was a “radical retelling by Cliff Cardinal” of William Shakespeare’s As You Like It. There were no further details, no last list, nothing.
Of course most people know As You Like It as one of the bard’s most accessible and whimsical plays. How was Cliff, a young Indigenous playwright and actor acclaimed for his acerbic, mischievous humour and willingness to deal with raw emotions and difficult subject matter, going to retell this classic of Western theatre?
When the show was finally on stage, word spread about it like wildfire. Its first audiences raved: it was “essential viewing,” “a surprising, powerful, thrilling, and moving piece of theatre that will never be forgotten.”
As more people saw the show, it became clear that what Cliff was doing with his new work was examining the relationship between the Indigenous community and the settlers. He was showing us what a young and insightful artist from the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation sees in the aftermath of the discovery of unmarked graves on the grounds of former residential schools. He was offering us the unvarnished truth of the state of the reconciliation process this country has been attempting for the last few decades. He was using theatre to do what it has always done: to take a few moments and pay attention to someone other than our own selves.