New Native Theatre Allies to Protest Minneapolis Musical Theatre's Production of BLOODY BLOODY ANDREW JACKSON
A Facebook event organized by New Native Theatre founder Rhiana Yazzie calls all local residents to protest Minneapolis Musical Theatre's production of BLOODY BLOODY ANDREW JACKSON at New Century Theare tonight, opening night.
The play, which was criticized by the Native American population in New York upon its opening on Broadway in 2010, is a controversial depiction of President Andrew Jackson and the Trail of Tears. In turn, Yazzie's goal is to "inform theatre goers about this problematic play and to show the vibrancy and strength of our Native community and its allies."
The Facebook event (entitled "Flash Round Dance & Sing-in at Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson Premiere") has accumulated 85 attendees to date, but it is not the only demonstration of discontent that has gained attention from the public. Yazzie also published an open letter concerning the subject on the Minnesota Playlist website, and many have been moved by her passion and her urgency.
To view the Facebook event page, click here.
To view Rhiana Yazzie's open letter, click here.
In the letter, Yazzie argues, "There is nothing about this history that is 'all sexy pants,' to quote the marketing machine that accompanied this show. The truth is that Andrew Jackson was not a rockstar and his campaign against tribal people - known so briefly in American history textbooks as the 'Indian Removal Act' is not a farcical backdrop to some emotive, brooding celebrity. Can you imagine a show wherein Hitler was portrayed as a justified, sexy rockstar?"
Despite the false representation of Andrew Jackson, Yazzie also cites specifics parts of the play that contradict with reality and distort history -- one of which being the scene that depicts Jackson's parents being slaughtered by Indians. This inaccuracy serves as a justifiable reason for Jackson to terrorize Native Americans throughout the remainder of the play, and Jackson becomes an undeservingly sympathetic character in the audience's eyes.
According to Yazzie's letter, Steven Meerdink, Minneapolis Musical Theatre producer and director, says, "The authors deliberately skew, distort, satirize, blur, and condense roughly 60 years of history into a 90 minute play. There are things presented in the play that never actually occurred, and many other things presented that may have occurred - but with dates, circumstances, or relevant people changed." Yazzie expects Meerdink to honor his promise to acknowledge these deceptions in a program note.
Toward the end of her argument, Yazzie states that Native American allies in Minnesota "will not stand idly by while history is whitewashed and Native culture--already imperiled by hundreds of years of misrepresentation--is further debased as a theatrical device."
The Facebook page encourages these allies to "come with your regalia, hand-drums, guitars, literature, signs, and flyers to stand together" during the protest at New Century Theatre tonight at 6 pm.