Biography

Cliff Cardinal is a writer/performer known for his black humour and compassionate poeticism. His solo plays Stitch and huff have won numerous awards. He has performed his music on three continents. He develops his new work with The Video Cabaret where he is Artistic Associate. He is also a graduate of the National Theatre School of Canada and the son of iconic Canadian actress Tantoo Cardinal.

His first multi-character play, Too Good To Be True, will open Video Cabaret’s 2019 season at their new space 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.”

Born on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, Cardinal is best known for his solo play huff, which he has performed over 200 times. This hard-hitting yet hilarious show about indigenous youth who abuse solvents, at high risk of suicide has won the Buddies in Bad Times’ Vanguard Award for Risk and Innovation, two Dora 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 was awarded a five-star review in The Guardian Observer which called it a “hard-hitting tour de force.” Huff has been published, translated into French, continues to tour and will be released as a podcast by the CBC.

On the music front, Cliff Cardinal and The Skylarks first recording, This Is Not A Mistake, is available on Spotify. The band’s next album What Could Possibly Go Wrong will be released this spring along with a new suite of solo songs.
Upcoming stage work includes Cliff Cardinal’s CBC Special, a combination of stories and songs that will premiere in southern Ontario this June followed by a tour of Canada’s north. Also in the works is another new solo (Everyone I Love Has) A Terrible Fate (Befall Them).

Cardinal currently lives in Toronto with his wife Sage (Artistic Director of Indigenous Fashion Week Toronto), their dog, Frodo, and their cat, Tiga.