Indigenous Voices Past Productions
Rhiana Yazzie: Rhiana Yazzie is a Navajo playwright based in Minnesota. She is a two time Playwrights’ Center Jerome Fellow (2010/2011 and 2006/2007) and is Playwrights’ Center Core Member. Her most recent commissions include the Ashland Oregon Shakespeare Festival and the Public Theater to write a play for American Revolutions: the United States History Cycle and coincidentally enough, the Minnesota History Theater.
About Her Play Ady: Ady is the story of a Navajo woman, Adrienne, who finds a 1937 photograph of a Caribbean dancer that is her mirror image. This opens the door to a moment before WWII when the surrealist movement was blooming. Characters like pablo Picasso and his lover, Dora Marr, surrealist photographers Man Ray and Lee Miller guide Adrienne through her mother’s suicide back home on the reservation. As it tells story of a surrealist muse, the play shows how easy it is to be lost to history, especially if you were a little brown woman.
Calling All Polar Bears
What would a polar bear say if he could talk? How does a small Indigenous Community fight a large multinational corporation that is intending to exploit its natural resources.? “Calling All Polar Bears” is a one-woman show by Inupaiq Eskimo Inter-Disciplinary Artist, Allison Warden, whose roots are from Kaktovik, Alaska, a village in the heart of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Through humor, tears, and engaging characters, “Calling All Polar Bears” takes you into the heart of the Arctic, with the hope of melting your heart towards a new perspective on the fate of the polar bears and the Inupiaq People.
About Allison Warden (AKU-MATU) is an Inupiaq Eskimo interdisciplinary artist with a passion for the self-determination of Indigenous Peoples. She raps under the name AKU-MATU and loves working with young people, empowering them through the use of theater and music. She creates her own beats for her rhymes, sampling traditional sounds and inserting her Inupiaq language into her songs. She recently performed as AKU-MATU at Columbia University, as a part of a concert put on by the Department of Ethnomusicology. She lives in Anchorage, Alaska and has close ties to her home community of Kaktovik, Alaska.
Curiosities moves between centuries to reveal how much contemporary American Indian identity is determined by history from the 1800’s . The performance features dance, visual art, Ojibwa hymn singing, contemporary and traditional American Indian music and media to show how much the images of nearly 200 years ago haunt us today. This work is in honor of the Ojibwe men and women who died in Europe while traveling as “curiosities” on display and for American Indian artists and intellectuals who struggle with “performing Indian,” still today.
About Heid: Heid E. Erdrich is the winner of the 2009 Minnesota Book Award and has authored three books of poetry: Fishing for Myth, New Rivers Press; The Mother’s Tongue, Salt Publishing; National Monuments, Michigan State University Press. Sge aksi co-edited Sister Nations: Native American Women on Community from Minnesota Historical Society Press. A member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Ojibway, Heid grew up in Wahpeton, North Dakota. Since 2007, Heid has served as Curator and Director for All My Relations Arts a contemporary American Indian fines arts initiative of the Native American Community Development Institute. Curiosities, first workshopped by Pangea in 2005, is her first play.
Four Sheets to the Wind
About Sterlin Harjo: Sterlin Harjo belongs to the Seminole and Creek Nations, and is a native of Holdenville, Oklahoma. Interested from an early age in visual art and film, Harjo studied painting at the University of Oklahoma before writing his first feature-length script. Since then he has studied screenwriting in the Oklahoma’s Film and Video Studies Program and under the Sundance Institute’s Feature Film Program. In 2004, Sundance Institute selected Harjo to receive an Annenberg Fellowship which provided extended support over a two-year period to facilitate the creation of his feature project. In 2006 Harjo was in the first class of the United States Artists award recipients. He was also the youngest recipient.
About The Film: When Cufe Smallhill (Cody Lightning), a Seminole-Cree from Oklahoma, finds his father dead beside a bottle of pills, he fulfills his promise to sink the body in the family pond. The action begins, leading Cufe to the big city of Tulsa with his sister Miri (Tamara Podemski) and soon discovers an entire world opening up.
Thanksgiving Give-Away: Keeping Traditions Alive
Internationally acclaimed Cree-Saulteaux performing artist, Margo Kane is the Founder and Artistic and Managing Director of Full Circle: First Nations Performance. For over 30 years she has been recognized as a storyteller, dancer, singer, animator, choreographer, video and installation artist, director, producer, writer, community development worker and mentor. Moonlodge, her acclaimed one-woman show, an Aboriginal Canadian classic, has toured for over 10 years nationally and internationally. Working in an interdisciplinary fashion, The River-Home, a video installation and performance, is her own approach to script development sourced from Aboriginal performance traditions and principles and is at the core of the ensemble training she has been researching. Confessions of an Indian Cowboy is a return to her solo work she is known for. She has performed in Indian country ‘on the land,’ galleries, Aboriginal community centers, school gymnasiums, as well as mainstream theatres and festivals throughout Canada and internationally. Over the last two years, Margo has developed the Aboriginal artists Ensemble Training Program. Recently she has presented the Talking Stick Festival with the community and an Aboriginal Artists Series for ongoing cultural development in Vancouver where she lives.
Thanksgiving Give-Away: Keeping Traditions Alive
In the fall, people travel great distances to be together with their loved ones. Other folks call home those close to them to feast together. Charities sponsor free turkey dinners for the disadvantaged. Turkey hotlines offer advice on how to cook the perfect bird. What do we give? Why do we give? And who are we giving to? What is the history of giving in Aboriginal societies? Are there older traditions still intact or have we lost sight of the authentic meaning of giving?
Dianna is of Niuean and American Samoan descent. She is 28 years old and was raised in West Auckland, where she lives with her two children. She has a diploma in Arts Management and a Diploma in Drama, both from The University of Auckland, a certificate in TV and Video Production from Carrington Polytechnic, and a Higher Teaching Diploma in Dance/Drama from the Auckland College of Education. Dianna is an experience performer whose stage work includes her solo show MAPAKI (which she also wrote), FRANGAPANI PERFUME (directed by HoriAhipene), and DECADENCE (directed by Shimpal Lelisi). Dianna has been a story reader for National Radio, and has received a number of Writing Commissions from Creative NZ (MAPAKI, TAGI I LIMA), Northland Polytechnic (HOKIANGA TANIWHA), Creative Communities (BROKEN), and TVNZ (SURPRISE), and was nominated for Most Promising Female Newcomer of the Year and Outstanding Writer of The Year AT THE 1999 Chapman Tripp Theater Awards. A multi-talented Pacific Island writer and performer, Dianna is very involved in the Performing Arts Community. She is the Arts Assessor for Auckland City Council’s Creative Communities Programme, and is currently working with the Ministry of Education to implement the new Arts Curriculum for Pacific Island Teachers. Dianna’s most recent piece written for the stage was her highly successful 2000 solo show MAPAKI, was performed in Auckland, Wellington, at the Kaikoura Marae, and the International Women Playwrights Festival in Athens, Greece.
Falemalama: Sensitively and powerfully weaving together themes of immigration, indigenous identity, exile and womanhood, Falemalama is the brand new, must see one woman show by acclaimed international performer and playwright Dianna Fuemana!
Mapaki: Mapaki, which is the Niuean language means “broken”, is a poignant and complex drama about Fisi, a woman surviving through the web of domestic violence. Indigenous New Zealand writer/actor Dianna Fuemana skillfully calibrates humor, anger, and sadness in a one woman performance, exploring Fisi’s emotional frailty as she retreats into a world of fantasy, illusion, and childhood memory avoiding the mundane realities of the present. Told in a blend of Niuean and English, Fuemana renders an evocative story of changing cultural realities for the indigenous people of the South Pacific.
About Bently: Bently Spang is an internationally known artist, curator, writer and member of the Northern Cheyenne Nation in Montana. He combines video, performance, mixed-media installation and sculpture to explore the intricacies and challenges of life as a contemporary Northern Cheyenne man. Spang earned an MFA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1996. His work is in museum and private collections both in the US and abroad. He has exhibited with numerous museums including: The International Center of Photography, NY; Denver Art Museum, Denver; La Fabbrica Del Vapore, Milan; Center Cultural Tijuana: Seattle Art Museum, Seattle; Museum of Modern Art / MASP, Rio de Janeiro; National Museum of the American Indian, NY; Wave Hill, Bronx; Museum of Art and Design, NY; Tang Museum, Saratoga Springs, NY; Tacoma Art Museum, Tacoma. Grants include: Creative Capital Foundation, Paul Allen Foundation. Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, Joan Mitchell Foundation, and he was a recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Award, Montana State University-Billings. He currently maintains a studio in Billings, Montana and teaches video art at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA.
About The Play “One Gone Native”: using humor, irony, and heart-stopping suspense in this multimedia piece, Bently Spang’s work tears off the tattered cloak of Native stereotypes to reveal one man’s version of the Native experience in all its glory.
About Keo: Keo Woolford is a multi-disciplinary artist, born and raised in Hawai’i. As an actor, Keo was most recently seen in the number one box office hit ACT OF VALOR and as Detective Chan in HAWAII 5-0. His self-penned one-man show I LAND was nominated for an Ovation Award and toured for three years after it’s East-West Players and Ma-Yi Theater Company Off-Broadway debut. Keo has starred as the King of Siam in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s The King and I at the London Palladium in London’s West End, opposite Elaine Page and Josie Lawrence. At the time, it was the longest running revival of a Rodgers and Hammerstein production in history. In New York he has been seen in such productions as Karaoke Stories, The Greeks, References To Salvador Dali Make Me Hot, and Sonnets For An Old Century. In Los Angeles he has been seen in several productions including the Ovation Award-Winning EWP production of Pacific Overtures and In My Father’s House, garnering him the Virgo Award for Best Actor. He is a graduate of William Esper in New York City and most recently studied in Ivana Chubbuck’s masters class in Los Angeles.
James Luna: The Storyteller
About James Luna: 52 year old James Luna lives on La Jolla Reservation in Pauma Valley, California. Luna is a member of the Luiseno tribe. He has a B.F.A. in Studio Arts from S. Irvine and a M.S. in Counseling, from San Diego University. Today, Luna is a multidisciplinary artist working in performance, visual art, and videography. James Luna has been presented at many venues including Whitney Museum of Art, New York, NY; and Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY.
About His Play: The Storyteller, is an assortment of related vignettes on American Indian cultures. The performance focuses on the relationship between American Indian cultures and the familiar stereotypes that American society believes and wants to believe. Luna takes those stereotypes and humorously reconstructs them to extract real experience from the imaginary.
I Don’t Wanna Play House
Tammy Anderson Bio: Tammy, a proud Palawa woman, was born in Tasmania and has been living in Victoria for the past 15 years. An actor / writer, theater maker, she is also a qualified hair and makeup artist. Tammy’s interest in performing arts led her to pursue and graduate with a Diploma from the Swinburne Indigenous Performing Arts Course. She was then offered a scholarship to the John Bolton Theater School, graduating in 1997. Her theater work includes numerous creative development workshops for Ilbijerri Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Theater co-op, Playbox and Melbourne Workers Theater. Her Theater credits include Oogadee Boogadee’s Koori Clowning troupe. Stolen world premier, Victorian regional tour, National and International tours. Tammy has just received a Green Room nomination for Best Actress in her performance of I Don’t Wanna Play House, which premiered at Playbox in 2001 and has since toured regional Victoria, Victoria University, Sydney, Tasmania, and was invited to Hong Kong 2002 festival. Tammy has been actively involved with Ilbijerri with the aim of developing Indigenous Theater, has worked as an arts worker at Footscray Community Arts Center and is currently teaching at Swinburne University. Tammy’s biggest credits are her angels, Jackson and Darcy.
About The Play: This is Tammy Anderson’s story. Her childhood was largely on the move, packing up with her mother and siblings, changing houses and schools. The memories she draws are sometimes raucously funny and other times harrowing. Anderson’s portraits of three irrepressible woman - herself, her mother and grandmother - bring them vividly to life to a background of country and western music. Anderson unfolds the story of her life in a performance of kinetic swirl of monologue, movement and music. The story is often heartbreaking as Anderson relives the abuse she and her family endured by the dominant not is love. (from a Review of Aaron Jelbart)
Homeless In the Homeland
About Bobby: Bobby Wilson has conducted performance workshops at Pangea World Theater, Battle Creek School, Center School and the American Indian Center, and has set stages ablaze all across Minnesota, as an individual and as a member of such collectives as Marking Oral History, Indian Uprising, and Minneapolis MOSAIC. Currently he works serving homeless American Indian youth, and believes the spoken word mentorship program (an innovative initiative which provides a paid opportunity for two spoken word artists to work with a professional mentor, these artists will then mentor six to eight High School students in the art of performance poetry) offers a positive and healthy way to uplift youth in the community.
About The Play: In a dystopian future, the United States government has initiated a “Truth and Reconciliation” process with Indigenous peoples - and lack of compliance is a federal crime. One woman with nothing left to lose challenges the charge of “Failure to Reconcile” and fights for her life. Is reconciliation possible - and if so, at what cost?
Shaking Our Shells: Stories from On the Wings of Wadaduga
Created / Performed by Qwo-Li Driskill
Shaking Our Shells: Stories from on the Wings of Wadaduga is an ongoing historiographical performance project that focuses on revising archived and embodied Cherokee Two-Spirit / GLBTQ memories. Drawing on archival research and interviews, the one-person performance shares stories from Cherokee cultural memory about 2 GLBTQ people within the context of larger tactics for decolonization and continuance.
Native Youth Voices
Curated by Sophia Sarenpa. Native Youth Voices showcases Native American youth talent and voices through performances of dialogue, spoken word, dance, movement, video, music and more.
Indian of the Future Vs Buffalo Man
BY Bently Spang and Marcus Amerman. Visual / Performance artists Bently Spang (Northern Cheyenne) and Marcus Amerman (Choctaw) have separately developed signature performance characters over the years----Amerman’s “Buffalo Man” and Spang’s “Indian of the Future/Blue Guy”. In this piece, the two characters will finally be united in an epic battle for the right to protect Indian Country.
Curated by Heid Erdrich. Artifact Traffic is a multidisciplinary storytelling through spoken word, live visual art, film, animation, dance, and music. This was the first project of the MNdn Arts, a new group that creates powerful art to affirm Native American presence in Minnesota today. Performers included Daina Ashbee (in a special arrangement with Rosy Simas Danse), Andrea Carlson (live art!), Heid E. Erdrich (spoken word), Phil Fried (deconstructed bass improvisation), Elizabeth Day (filmmaker), R. Vincent Moniz Jr. (spoken word and flight), Briand Morrison (guitar improvisation), Big S2 (rap and roll), and Margaret Noodin (voice talent). Exhibiting artists are Carolyn Lee Anderson, Frank Big Bear, Andrea Carlson, Gordon Coons, Elizabeth Day, Jim Denomie, Zoran Mojsilov, R. Vincent Moniz, Jr., Peter Martin Morales, Jonathan Thunder, and Gwen Westerman.
An excerpt from Heid Erdrich's Artifact Traffic (tech rehearsal), part of the Indigenous Voices Series: