He Who Bears the Grief of the World



In the summer of 1985, in a vacant lot downtown Montreal, the drums of the bearer of the grief of the world reverberated. The drums simultaneously heralded the creation of a new work and the birth of the first francophone aboriginal theatre company – Ondinnok. He Who Bears the Grief of the World won the Prix Américanité at the first edition of the Festival des Amériques – an award recognizing its ‘other’ theatricality.


He Who Bears the Grief of the World is an act of reclaiming an aboriginal spirituality and recapturing its imaginative terrain. By drawing upon myth, rites of passage and shamanistic performance practice, Yves Sioui Durand speaks to the rebirth of aboriginal cultures: “This mummy that burns in the night like the sun is the promise of change in the world that is yet to come.” An outdoor presentation that is modern in its intention while drawing upon previous millennia poses the question of the place of Aboriginals in the Americas of today.

Performance dates

1984    August, Delage Lake – 450e Après? Colloquium

1985    June  – Montreal, Festival des Amériques

The team

Playwright/Director: Yves Sioui Durand

Actors: Jocelyn Bérubé, John Blondin, Bernadette Dominique, Joseph Jean-Pierre, Catherine Joncas & Yves Sioui Durand

Singers & Musicians: Michel Ducharme, Sylvie Tremblay, Puquio & the traditional drums of the Whirlwind Singers (Paul Nadjiwan, Jim Oshkineejish & Gordie Simon)

Lighting Designer & Production Director: Guy Simard

Composer: Vincent Beaune

Set & Costume Designers: Luc Béland & Richard Lacroix

Communication Director: Lucienne Losier

Producers: Ondinnok & Festival des Amériques


He Who Bears the Grief of the World has been performed on many occasions throughout the world in the ten years following its premiere.