A world premiere in English, French, Cree and Kanienʼkéha

Fight On!


Full Production

Written by Guy Sprung
With ironic and iconic comments by Drew Hayden Taylor (Anishnawbe, Curve Lake)
Directed by Guy Sprung
Mask Master is Brian Smith, Puppet Master Zach Fraser
Featuring: Anna Burkholder, Noel Burton, Brefny Caribou-Curtin, Tyson Houseman, Josh Johnston, Warona Setshwaelo, Ivan Smith, Michaela Washburn, Eric Woolfe

Fight On! is a recounting of the occupation and colonization of the Canadian West inspired by the real-life adventures and misadventures of Francis Dickens, son of Charles Dickens and member of the North-West Mounted Police.

This world premiere full-scale production of Fight On!’s satirical text challenges our accepted history about the occupation and colonization of the Canadian West and our treatment of Indigenous Peoples. A fast-paced, true(ish) recounting of novelist Charles Dickens’ son Francis in the North-West Mounted Police, circa 1874.

The performance is mainly in English with French, Cree, and Kanienʼkéh (Mohawk).

At a documented encounter between Cree Chief Big Bear and the real Francis Dickens during the Riel Resistance of 1885, Big Bear said of Dickens: “You are a man whom Manitou made to be a Chief! We like you; your heart is good.” This one simple statement has given the project licence to create a character who slowly comes to understand the true history of his surroundings.

Following the death of his famous novelist father, Francis Jeffery Dickens (known as the Christmas Carol baby) arrives in Canada in 1874 with all the prejudices and presumptions of a white colonist/settler. However, while serving 11 years as a member of the North-West Mounted Police, Frank is horrified by the mendacity that robbed the Indigenous Peoples of their lands. He learns to respect the traditions and wisdom of their culture and the urgent need to live in harmony with Mother Nature. Frank was diminutive in stature, lame in one leg, deaf in one ear and had a tendency to stutter… the perfect comic anti-protagonist. This saga, blending comedy with tragedy for a Turtle Island prairie adventure like no other, will leave audiences questioning what it means to be Canadian.

Working in tandem with Sprung, Drew Hayden Taylor‘s (Anishnawbe, Curve Lake) sardonic, ‘red pen’ colour  commentary is in direct counterpoint to the general accepted perspective of the tale. “Drew’s interwoven text completes the Dickensian storytelling of the invasion and occupation by European settlers,” said Sprung. From  Hayden Taylor: “As a First Nations person, I was always aware of the issues surrounding how random, dishonest and with such little regard the land was taken, but it is still startling to witness over and over again,” adding his usual wry take, “Audiences better be careful, they might have both a good time and learn something.”

Fight On! is the most ambitious production in the 30-year history of Infinithéâtre. This cross-cultural, multilingual, meta-Brechtian, action-packed romp set during the late 19th century incorporates puppets, masks, multimedia, dance and buffoonery. The original satirical, literate and provocative script breaks through learned history and sets it straight, though with more than a hint of a smirk. Audiences will have fun spotting allusions to Charles Dickens’ characters and works. Said Sprung about the core of the piece, “Too many Canadians know far too little about the colonization of their country, a genocide of the west which eradicated a Peoples way of life, resulting in present-day conflicts. This lack of knowledge/brainwashing has serious consequences for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis people, and for Canada as a whole.” The company will donate one dollar to the Native Women’s Centre each time an offensive word is used in the play, albeit in its historical context.

For tickets: www.infinitheatre.com or  514-987-1774 #104

Infinithéâtre at Centre St Jax
1439 Sainte-Catherine West