Heartwarming and Hilarious Play to Premiere at Magnus Theatre

By Judy Roche

Originally premiered in 1996 and a recipient of the Dora Mavor Moore Award, Only Drunks and Children Tell The Truth is an emotional see-saw of a play that follows Grace, an Indigenous woman adopted by a white family, who’s asked by her birth sister to come back to the reserve for their mother’s funeral. Worried about opening old wounds, Grace struggles as she tries to connect the culture of her past and the truth of her present.

The play is written by Drew Hayden Taylor, an Ojibway from the Curve Lake First Nation in Ontario and an award-winning playwright, author, columnist, filmmaker, and lecturer. He has spent more than 25 years exploring the world and writing about his adventures from the Indigenous point of view. These travels have allowed his writing to develop a worldly tone while staying rooted in the Indigenous perspective.

Drew Hayden-Taylor


“Being ‘the Blue-Eyed Ojibway’ has been oddly beneficial for me,” he says. “I always try and tell young people, particularly Native youth, to try and take negative things and make them positive. That’s what I did. The fact that I don’t look so Native, yet was born and raised on my reserve, gave me unique perspective on the world. At first, it was my calling card and I used it in my essay writing and in a lot of plays. Many characters dealt with wanting to be accepted, or feeling like the outsider or different. So, essentially I turned this into a pretty successful career.”

Only Drunks and Children Tell The Truth is the second play in a trilogy; the first is Someday, and the third is 400 Kilometres. “The purpose behind the writing of the three plays was an attempt to explore the whole concept of what was called the ‘Scoop Up,’ when Native kids were scooped up by the CAS [Children’s Aid Society] and farmed out to non-Native families for adoption. More importantly, this particular play dealt with the central character of Janice/Grace’s attempts to feel at home,” he says. “I wanted to see where these two women—Janice/Grace and her sister Barb—would take me, the writer and the audience. Specifically, this play deals with the slow process of reconciliation with her ancestral culture. Over the years I had bumped into so many Native adoptees, a lot more than non-Native ones, and I wanted to learn and share as much as I could about their story.”

Only Drunks and Children Tell The Truth runs from October 26-November 11. For more information visit magnustheatre.com.