Free Reading of Shakespeare Meets Blazing Saddles in New Play-Native Voices at Autry Set for October 24 at Autry National Center
Native Voices at the Autry continues its vital role as the country's only equity theatre company dedicated exclusively to developing the work of Native American Playwrights with a free staged reading of Measure for Measure: An Indian Boarding School Comedy, a bawdy adaptation of Shakespeare's play set in the Old West by Randy Reinholz (Choctaw*), founder and producing artistic director of Native Voices at the Autry, on Thursday, October 24, 2013, 7:30 p.m., at the Wells Fargo Theater at The Autry National Center in Griffith Park. The reading, which is followed by an audience "Talk-Back" with Reinholz, director Chris Anthony and dramaturg Robert Caisley, is part of Native Voices' signature FIRST LOOK SERIES: Plays in Process, which brings playwrights together with professional directors, dramaturgs, and actors for a workshop and public presentation at the Autry, providing an important next step in the play's development.
In Reinholz' new play, love, righteousness, faith and mercy compete for provenance on the frontier when an Indian boarding school, Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show and local town and saloon inhabitants collide over the fate of a young teenage boy unjustly sentenced to death. Reinholz, who describes the play as "Blazing Saddles meets Shakespeare," says, "the peculiar American institution of the Indian boarding school system, where children were 'stripped' of their culture, rouses deep emotions among Americans - Native and non-Native - even today. I felt that this subject, and its related theme of standing up to authority, needed some theatrical distance - so I chose to make it a comedy." A rich linguistic amalgam, the play preserves passages of Shakespeare's original text for the highbrow characters, while commoners use the vernacular of the day, as do the Native American and immigrant characters, whose speech is also peppered with their respective languages. Intended to examine the questionable ways in which Native culture is portrayed in contemporary American schools and history books, the play, says Reinholz, "gives those ideas serious comic 'pies in the face.'" This is the play's first public reading.
Randy Reinholz (an enrolled member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma) is co-creator and Producing Artistic Director of Native Voices at the Autry, the nation's only Equity theater company dedicated exclusively to the development and production of new plays by Native American Playwrights. He has directed over 75 productions in the US, Australia and Canada and produced even more. Measure for Measure: an Indian Boarding School Comedy is his first play to be workshopped at Native Voices. He is also co-founder and producer for the Native Radio Theater Project, collaboration between Native Voices and Native American Public Telecommunications. Reinholz received a BA from William Jewell College and an MFA from Cornell University. He is a on the Board of Directors for the Media Arts Center of San Diego and a Trustee of The National Theatre Conference. He has served on panels for the LA Cultural Affairs Department, TCG, and the NEA and the Advisory Committee for the Native Theater Festival at The Public Theatre. Reinholz is a tenured professor at San Diego State University, where he served as Director of the School of Theatre, Television, and Film from 2007-2012. In 2012 he was named Director of Community Engagement and Innovative Programs for the College of Professional Studies and Fine Arts at San Diego State University.
Chris Anthony is the Associate Artistic Director of The Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles. She is a much sought after director, teacher, actor and administrator specializing in community-based art making. Holding an MFA from the California Institute of the Arts, she has taught in venues ranging from Elementary Schools to Adult Correctional Facilities. Chris oversees SCLA's Youth & Education programs, specializing in youth development for adolescents. Recent directing credits include Lunch Lady Courage at Cornerstone Theater; A Midsummer Night's Dream, Romeo & Juliet and Othello at the St. Louis Black Rep; and Romeo & Juliet at SCLA. She has been a guest lecturer at the UC Davis, University of Southern California, Cal State Dominguez Hills, Cal Poly Pomona and Laverne University. A former board member of TYA/USA, her other professional affiliations have included P.L.A.Y. at Center Theatre Group, TeAda Productions, Plaza de la Raza and Shakespeare at the Huntington.
Robert Caisley is Associate Professor and Head of Dramatic Writing at the University of Idaho. He was named the 2011 Blaine Quarnstrom Visiting Playwright at the University of Southern Mississippi. His plays include Kissing (New Theatre, Coral Gables, FL), The Lake (Walnut Street Theatre, Philadelphia), Good Clean Fun (Montana Actors Theatre, Missoula), The 22-Day Adagio (Mill Mountain Theatre, Roanoke, VA), Front (Sundance Playwright's Lab), Kite's Book (6th Street Playhouse, Santa Rosa, CA), Letters to an Alien (Mad Horse Theatre, Portland, ME), Santa Fe (StageWorks/Hudson, New York, Finalist for the Heideman Award), and Winter, which received its world premiere at New Theatre in January 2012. He directed the Los Angeles Premiere of The Frybread Queen by Carolyn Dunn. His latest play, Happy, was a finalist this year for the O'Neill Theatre Center National Playwright's Conference, and his play Front will be released by Samuel French later this summer.
NATIVE VOICES AT THE AUTRY is America's leading Native American theatre company. Acclaimed by critics as "a hotbed for contemporary Native Theatre," "deeply compelling" and "a powerful and eloquent voice," the company continues to build on its storied and prolific history as the country's only Equity theatre company dedicated exclusively to developing and producing new works by Native American Playwrights. Native Voices, which provides a supportive, collaborative setting for Native Theatre artists from across North America, was founded in 1994 by Producing Artistic Director Randy Reinholz (Choctaw*) and Producing Executive Director Jean Bruce Scott. In 1999, it was established as Native Voices at the Autry, a resident company at the Autry National Center of the American West. Native Voices maintains successful long-term relationships with New York's Public Theater, Native American Public Telecommunications (NAPT), Washington's Kennedy Center, the National Museum of the American Indian, Perseverance Theatre, the Alaska Native Heritage Center, Montana Rep and La Jolla Playhouse. Hailed by critics also as "a virtual Who's Who of American Indian theatre artists" and "an established presence in Los Angeles and a growing influence elsewhere," Native Voices is widely respected in both the Native American and theatre communities for its breakthrough plays and diverse programming, which showcase the unique points of view within the more than 500 Native American nations in North America. To date, the company has produced 24 critically acclaimed new plays, including 15 world premieres, 10 Playwrights Retreats, 20 New Play Festivals, 2 Short Play Festivals and more than 180 workshops and public staged readings of new plays by Native American Playwrights featuring Native American actors
THE AUTRY is a museum dedicated to exploring and sharing the stories, experiences, and perceptions of the diverse peoples of the American West, connecting the past to the present to inspire our shared future. The museum presents a wide range of exhibitions and public programs, including lectures, film, theater, festivals, family events, and music, and performs scholarship, research, and educational outreach. The Autry's collection of more than 500,000 pieces of art and artifacts includes the Southwest Museum of the American Indian Collection, one of the largest and most significant in the United States.
Native Voices is made possible by Department of Cultural Affairs, City of Los Angeles; Edison International; Jane Nakagawa and interTrend Communications; Los Angeles County Arts Commission; National Endowment of the Arts; Nissan Foundation; San Manuel Band of Mission Indians; Walt Disney Company; and Wells Fargo.
NATIVE VOICES AT THE AUTRY is located at The Autry National Center, 4700 Western Heritage Way, Los Angeles, CA, 90027-1462.
Admission to the reading of MEASURE FOR MEASURE: AN INDIAN BOARDING SCHOOL COMEDY is free. For reservations or additional information, call 323 667-2000, ext. 299, or visit www.NativeVoicesattheAutry.org.