The Rivers Speak


The Rivers Speak: A Central Algoma Community Play
Mississaugi First Nation Pow Wow Grounds
Global Premiere:  Friday, September 8 2017, 6pm
Performance Dates:  6-8pm September 9, 11, 13, 15 and 16, 2017  

**Look out for our new Rivers Speak website launching June 2017**

Pack your gear, and hold on tight – you’re about to take the river journey of a lifetime!  Along the way you will encounter a hungry wolf pack, fall through the ice into the frigid waters of Chiblow Lake, dance a logger’s jig in Wharncliffe, receive teachings from Thunderbird Woman on the shores of the Penewabecong Ziibii (Blind River), and witness a store explode into flames near Aubrey Falls.  This may sound like a tall tale, but it’s all based on the life stories of your neighbours!

The Rivers Speak Community Play is an original professional theatre production led by Thinking Rock Community Arts and created with, for and about the people of Central Algoma.  It breathes life into the stories, memories, tall tales, myths and legends of our local rivers and waterways as told by hundreds of children, adults, seniors and Elders over the past five years.

Audience members are invited to join local and visiting artists and community members in this participatory performance which features square dancing, round dancing, puppetry and stilt walking, along with original music incorporating traditional Anishnaabe hand drumming and singing with old time fiddle music.



Come be part of the Rivers Speak Community Play!

We will be holding community castings on July 18, 19 and 20 (locations and times TBC).  Everyone gets a part, and all ages are welcome.

This is the time to try something new, meet your neighbours, and have a lot of fun!

No previous experience is necessary – just bring your enthusiasm.

Potential roles include actors, dancers, musicians, singers, storytellers, sewers, builders and makers.  You will be supported by a team of professional artists.

This is a nine week commitment: weekly rehearsals will begin July 25th and continue through the performance period.  Time commitment per week will be approximately 2-5 hours.

For more information or to sign up, contact Artistic Director Robin Sutherland by email at


RiversSpeak Words

River words in English, French and Anishinaabemowin are collected from community participants to create river poems.


A bit about the River Journey so far…

The “Rivers Speak” is multi-year community play process that began in August 2013.  

The project is led by Thinking Rock Community Arts in collaboration with a Creative Team of local and visiting artists, community advisors, Anishinaabe knowledge holders and Elders.  

Over the past four years, the Rivers Speak Creative Team has visited local towns and reserves – gathering in high schools, in community centres, in living rooms and around the fire – to welcome hundreds of community members of all ages to take part in multidisciplinary story gathering, drop-in artmaking, and artistic skill development workshops related to the Rivers Speak theme.  These activities have always been free and open to the public.

The hundreds of stories gathered and many art pieces created through this process – including lanterns, fish puppets, wolf and deer masks, river canoes, riverscapes, water poems, river stories and more – have informed the script and design for the Rivers Speak Community Play.  

The play will be performed outdoors at the Mississaugi First Nation Pow Wow Grounds in September 2017.  It will feature a cast of 50-100 local community members, who will be guided in activating the script by a Production Team of local and visiting professional theatre artists, choreographers, musicians and theatre technicians.

Following the production, we will embark on a year of learning with community participants and partners about the outcomes of the project.  We will explore what types of community stories we would like to focus on animating next, and which artistic medium might best be used.


The rivers have always spoken….it is time for us to listen!


RiversSpeak Serpent at SRFN PowWow Aug2014

The River Serpent puppet is invited to dance at the Serpent River First Nation Pow Wow, August 2014