Native Voices at the Autry to Kick Off LEGAL BRIEFS Short Play Festival, 11/10
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 its third annual Short Play Festival, featuring staged readings of six engaging short plays on the theme "Legal Briefs: Lawmakers & Activists" written by veteran playwrights on Sunday, November 10, 1:30 p.m., at the Wells Fargo Theater at the Autry National Center in Los Angeles.
The theme explores how the American legal system and law has been shaped by Native American identity and culture, as well as how Native American lawmakers, activists and laypeople uphold and honor, question and investigate, or create and change law within our society. One of the six plays, each of which range from five to fifteen minutes in length, will be selected for the 2013 Von Marie Atchley Excellence in Playwriting Award, a $1000 cash prize, by a national panel of judges.
Among the plays is FORT CONLEY by GARY HARRINGTON (Comanche*), which involves a grandmother who tries to break through the veil of electronic gadgetry to teach her grandkids about Native Americans and the law. Harrington, a graduate of Cornell University (B.A. English) who holds a JD from Harvard Law School, has written, produced and directed short narrative films that have screened at film festivals across the country and was selected as a finalist at the 2012 Native Voices Short Play Festival for his play Soccer Dad. His recent credits include the book Seeing Red - Hollywood's Pixeled Skins (2013) (contributing author).
NECESSITY AS A REASON AND A DEFENSE by playwright, journalist and storyteller JEANNA FLANNIGAN (Anishinabe/Wikwemikong*) is about a young Native attorney who faces her most difficult case when she leaves her corporate job to work as a criminal defense lawyer for a Native law firm. Flannigan recently had short stories published in Mobius: The Journal of Social Change, The Connecticut Review, and the Bodega Monthly Anthology, and has also published non-fiction articles in Time Out New York and the Georgia Straight in Vancouver.
A TERRORIST THREAT by Bret Jones (Muscogee Creek*) tells the story of three Puskataw men who face imprisonment when they trespass on a casino construction site in order to honor their dead through ceremony. Jones, a novelist, screenwriter, lyricist and playwright, is the director of theatre at Wichita State University. His play The Isolation House ran at The American Theatre of Actors in New York City and Thee and Thou premiered at The Jewel Box Theatre in Oklahoma City. Two of his Native American plays-Kindred and War Paint won the Garrard Playwriting Award sponsored by The Five Civilized Tribes Museum. Another, Native Skin had a workshop and staged reading at Native Voices at the Autry in Los Angeles.
In HOOP JUMPER by VICKI LYNN MOONEY (Cherokee*), a mixed-blood man seeks reinstatement to the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma but is confronted by a Cherokee representative and a commissioner from the Department of the Interior to the Five Civilized Tribes. Mooney has been a finalist in several national playwriting competitions, including the prestigious 2012 Native American New Play Festival. Readings and productions of her work have been staged in New York, Los Angeles and venues in between, including at Chicago's Writers Theatre and New York's Ensemble Studio Theatre and The Roundabout. Among other credits, Mooney's story about the Cherokee Trail of Tears was published in Cherokee Writers from the Flint Hills of Oklahoma: An Anthology by The Cherokee Arts and Humanities Council, 2011.
THE ORIGIN OF THE LAW by DIANE GLANCY (Cherokee*) imparts a short history of being human - in the beginning was the Maker who created Buffalo, who created Law and made us Human Beings. Glancy, a creative writing professor at Azusa Pacific University and a nationally recognized poet, playwright and novelist, has had four of her plays produced by Native Voices at the Autry - The Bird House, Salvage, Stone Heart and Jump Kiss. Her short play The Mask Maker was part of the 2013 Two Worlds Theater "Staged Reading Festival" in Albuquerque. Glancy also is one of 25 commissioned playwrights to write a Civil War monologue for Our War: Final Project at Arena Stage in Washington, D.C. Her new collection of nonfiction, Fort Marion Prisoners and the Trauma of Native Education is forthcoming from the University of Nebraska Press in 2014.
MY FATHERS BONES by poet, writer and policy advocate SUZAN SHOWN HARJO (Cheyenne, Muscogee Creek*) and playwright and lawyer MARY KATHRYN NAGAL (Cherokee*) is about Jack Thorpe, a ghost who wants the bones of his famous Olympian Indian father, Jim, to be buried with their tribe and not in the Pennsylvania town that claims to own them. Harjo, president of The Morning Star Institute in Washington, DC, has helped Native Peoples protect sacred places and recover more than one million acres of land. Over the past five decades, she has developed key laws to promote and protect Native nations, sovereignty, children, arts, cultures and languages, including the American Indian Religious Freedom Act, National Museum of the American Indian Act and Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act. Formerly the executive director of the National Congress of American Indians, she served as Legislative Liaison for the Native American Rights Fund and in the Carter Administration, and was lead plaintiff in Harjo et al v. Pro Football, Inc. (1992-2009), the landmark lawsuit against the name of the Washington professional football franchise. She is a Founding Trustee of the National Museum of the American Indian and is the first Native woman to receive an Honorary Doctorate of Humanities from the Institute of American Indian Arts. Oklahoma City-native Nagle studied theater at Georgetown University and graduated summa cum laude from Tulane Law School, where she received the Judge John Minor Wisdom Award. Her plays have been performed from Oklahoma to New York. A descendant of John Ridge of the Cherokee Nation and one of the first Native attorneys in the history of the United States, Nagle has a passion for Native law and Native issues. Her article, "Standing Bear v. Crook: The Case for Equality Under Waaxe's Law," was published in the Creighton Law Review and was the impetus for her writing Waaxe's Law, a play that was performed at the U.S. District Court for the District of Nebraska in celebration of the 130th anniversary of the trial of Chief Standing Bear. She is a member of the 2013 Emerging Writers Group at The Public Theater, where her latest play Manhatta was performed as part of the "New Work Now" series.
Serving as dramaturges for the plays are Native Voices Literary Associate Jessica Orden and Kori Cordero, a descendant of the White Mountain Apache and Cahuilla tribes. Orden, a graduate of San Diego State University's Theatre Arts masters program and member of Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas, has worked with La Jolla Playhouse and Playwrights Project and was the production dramaturg for Cikiuteklluku: Giving Something Away in Anchorage, AK. Cordero, currently in her final year at UCLA School of Law, will graduate with specializations in Critical Race Studies and The David J. Epstein Program in Public Interest Law and Policy. Last summer, she served as a law clerk at the Pascua Yaqui Prosecutor's Office in Tucson, AZ , where she focused on child welfare issues with the goal of working for a tribal court upon graduation.
Native Voices at the Autry's Short Play Festival, held in conjunction with the Autry's American Indian Arts Marketplace, is free with admission to the Marketplace ($12 for adults; $8 for students, seniors, and children; free for Autry members). The largest Native American arts fair in Southern California, the annual Marketplace features over 180 Native American artists who represent more than 40 tribes. The weekend includes performances, children's activities, and artist demonstrations. For Marketplace tickets and details, visit TheAutry.org/Marketplace.
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.
The readings are set for Saturday, November 10, 2013, 1:30 p.m. at the Wells Fargo Theater, Autry National Center, 4700 Western Heritage Way, Los Angeles, CA 90027-1462. FREE with admission to the Autry's American Indian Arts Marketplace ($12 for adults; $8 for students, seniors, and children; free for Autry members). Marketplace tickets are available online at TheAutry.org/Marketplace.
NATIVE VOICES AT THE AUTRY is located at the Autry National Center, 4700 Western Heritage Way, Los Angeles, CA, 90027-1462. For reservations or additional information, call 323 667-2000, ext. 299 or visit www.NativeVoicesattheAutry.org.
*refers to tribal affiliation
Pictured: A scene from a previous Native Voices production. Photo by Tony Dontscheff.