Wichita Center for the Arts Theatre Stages WAR PAINT, Now thru 4/20

Wichita Center for the Arts Theatre Stages WAR PAINT, Now thru 4/20

Wichita Center for the Arts Theatre is proud to present, "War Paint," an original play written and directed by Dr. Bret Jones. Performances begin at 8 p.m. tonight, April 16-19 and 2 p.m. April 20 at Wichita Center for the Arts, 9112 E. Central.

Set in modern-day Muskogee, Okla., "War Paint" is the story of Christina Carmichael (Alison Bridget Chambers), a young Native American woman working to prove herself in college as she struggles to find her true identity-and perhaps love-along the way. A deeply personal tale, "War Paint" also explores the challenges that many Native Americans face as they attempt to embrace mainstream society while maintaining cultural traditions. The director and all seven members of the cast are of Native American heritage.

Program Director of Theatre at Wichita State University, Jones is a member of the Muscogee (Creek) Tribe in Oklahoma and can relate to the themes of his play.

"I'm a Creek, but I didn't grow up with much of the culture in my home," Jones said. "We learned a few words in the language and knew about our ancestry, but it didn't go much further than that."

When Jones started writing plays in the 1990s, he decided to explore his heritage in the form of theatre.

"There were too many good stories in 'Indian Country' to pass up," Jones said. "My great-grandfather signed the Dawes Commission rolls just after the turn of the century, but there is so much more to being a member of the tribe than just that."

A resident of Ada, Okla., for a number of years, Jones worked with the Chickasaw Nation during his summers off from teaching drama at East Central University. His experiences caused him to examine the modern world in which Native Americans live. Some of his first Native plays explored early twentieth-century stories from the Muscogee (Creek) perspective, but Jones soon turned his attention to contemporary Indian living.

"I discovered that there were so many young people like me that knew just a bit of our heritage and were searching, looking to that culture as a source of identity and community," Jones said. "And visiting with those folks gave me a lot to mull over as a writer. It made for good storytelling."

"War Paint" is the fourth and final production in Wichita Center for the Arts Theatre's 2013-14 season. In addition to Ms. Chambers, "War Paint" stars Damian Padilla, Delno Ebie, Lewis D. Mize, Sean Gestl, Lacey Youngbear and Stacy Chestnut.

Guests are invited to attend a wine and cheese reception at 7 p.m. on opening night (April 16), free with admission to the play. Reserved seating tickets are $25 for adults, $20 for seniors and $15 for students. Order tickets by calling (316) 315-0151 or visit Wichita Center for the Arts at 9112 E. Central between 1-5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

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