Jimmy Blais: How do we judge the ways people take on the world?

“[It’s] a story about how we choose to see people, how we judge or not judge the way they take on the world.

In Sonny’s Blues by award-winning writer James Baldwin, two brothers who grow up under the same circumstances in Harlem, end up living entirely different lives. As one brother becomes a teacher, the other struggles with addiction, incarceration, and redemption through his musical talent. Jimmy Blais’ adaptation takes the core of this story and explores it through an Indigenous perspective.

Originally developed at The National Theatre School’s Indigenous Artists in Residence program, Sonny’s Way follows two Indigenous brothers, Jeff and Sonny who try to reconnect after life has dealt them many difficult cards. Blais’ new compelling story challenges how we perceive addicts and questions why certain ways of dealing with trauma are considered “better” than others. How do we judge the ways people take on the world — ourselves included? 

Catch Jimmy Blais’ newest creation on the opening night of Weesageechak 32!


Learn more about Jimmy Blais

What inspired you to create the piece you’re bringing to Weesageechak 32?
I saw so many similarities between the characters in James Baldwin’s beautiful short story, Sonny’s Blues and the characters in my life.

Why is Weesageechak the right place to present your work?
An opportunity to work on an Indigenous piece, alongside Indigenous artists and present it in a festival that celebrates new Indigenous works and works-in-development…uh yes, yes and yes…it’s a no brainer.

What kind of reaction or effect do you want your piece to have to the audience?
I want people to laugh when it’s funny, tear up when it’s moving, and think when it’s over.

Where do you find your inspiration for your creative work?
In the banality, the beauty, and the complexity of people.

Who is your role model? How do they inspire you?
The joker who laughs when they are alone. They carry the fire, always.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
You are not stuck in traffic.
You ARE traffic.
Know your place.

What are you craving right now?
A hammock by a lake.

What is coming up next for you?
Tomorrow.
Also, Porte Parole’s The Assembly at The Segal Centre, National Arts Centre and multiple cities in Germany.

Photos by Laurence Plouffe


Wednesday November 13, 2019

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