Cliff Cardinal is a polarizing writer and performer known for black humour and compassionate poeticism. His solos STITCH, HUFF, and CLIFF CARDINAL’S CBC SPECIAL have won numerous awards. He is an associate artist at Video Cabaret where he develops his new work. Born on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, he studied playwriting at the National Theatre School of Canada, fronts the hilarious and nefarious Cliff Cardinal and The Skylarks and is the son of iconic Canadian actress Tantoo Cardinal.
Cardinal’s first multi-character play, TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE, opened Video Cabaret’s 2019 season at The Busy Street Theatre in Toronto with Cardinal himself directing. A workshop version of the script debuted at Summerworks ’13, where NOW Magazine said, “This captivating tale of an off-grid mother and her desperate children solidifies Cardinal as one of the most talented and intriguing writers in the country.”
Cardinal is best known for his one-man play HUFF, which he has performed over 200 times. This harrowing yet hilarious show about youth who abuse solvents, at high risk of suicide won the Buddies in Bad Times’ Vanguard Award for Risk and Innovation, two Dora Mavor Moore Awards (Outstanding Performance, Outstanding New Play), RBC’s Emerging Playwright Award, The Lustrum Award (which recognizes the greatest moments at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival) and was shortlisted for Amnesty International’s Freedom Of Expression Award. The production garnered a five-star review in The Guardian Observer titled “a hard-hitting tour de force.” HUFF has been published, translated into French, continues to tour and was released as a podcast by the CBC.
Cliff Cardinal and The Skylarks’ first recording, THIS IS NOT A MISTAKE was released in 2016 . CLIFF CARDINAL’S CBC SPECIAL, a songwriter/storyteller performance, toured festivals in Ottawa, Calgary, St. Catharines, through Canada’s North starting in Yellowknife and won the Jon Kaplan Spotlight Award for the top performance at Toronto’s SummerWorks Festival. The band’s new album THE HARD WAY is out now.
Cardinal lives in Toronto with his wife Sage Paul (Artistic Director of Indigenous Fashion Week Toronto), their dog, Frodo, and their cat, Tiga.