World Premiere Comedy FOR THE PEOPLE Comes to the Guthrie Theater

The show opens on Friday, October 13 and will play through Sunday, November 12.

By: Sep. 29, 2023
World Premiere Comedy FOR THE PEOPLE Comes to the Guthrie Theater

The Guthrie Theater will present For the People by Ty Defoe and Larissa FastHorse, directed by Michael John Garcés. Created in partnership with members of the local Indigenous community, this Guthrie-commissioned comedy examines the myriad facets of contemporary Native life with humor and joy. Previews of For the People begin Saturday, October 7 on the McGuire Proscenium Stage. The show opens on Friday, October 13 and will play through Sunday, November 12. Single and group tickets are on sale now through the Box Office or online at Accessibility services (ASL-interpreted, audio-described, open-captioned and relaxed performances) are also available on select dates.

The Guthrie is currently engaged in a years-long collaboration with Indigenous Direction, which is led by Defoe and FastHorse. Projects have included the community-based presentations of Water Is Sacred (2017) and Stories From the Drum (2019) as well as multiple play workshops. For the People continues this collaboration during the 2023–2024 Season and marks the first Guthrie mainstage production by Native playwrights featuring Native voices.

When reflecting on the work leading up to first rehearsal, FastHorse commented, “This a moment we've been dreaming about for so long, and we're incredibly grateful for the opportunity to not only create this space for the Twin Cities but the greater community beyond.” She continued, “After many conversations with members of the local Native community, we realized this show had to be funny because comedy and laughter are at the core of Indigenous culture. I'm thrilled to co-write this show featuring Native voices and thrilled to do it at the Guthrie.”

Defoe added, “It has taken many years to develop a new play like this, and while we celebrate, we recognize the work ahead of us.” Defoe continued, “We still live in a country that hides Indigeneity in film, media and on American stages. What a prolific moment it is to resist that by bringing joy in the form of a comedy and bringing everybody together.”

When asked for his thoughts on the collaboration overall, Artistic Director Joseph Haj commented, “We are honored and humbled to have worked with Ty and Larissa on several projects over the past few years and to welcome Michael John Garcés as an essential collaborator for his expertise in developing artistically exceptional, community-engaged theater. Their artistry and generosity have been a gift to the Guthrie, and I'm thrilled that this collaboration has led to a mainstage production created from the stories and experiences of the local Native community.”

Haj continued, “The Guthrie is committed to strengthening and maintaining our relationships with Indigenous communities in the Twin Cities, and I am beyond grateful to this team for guiding us in these efforts. I look forward to continuing this invaluable partnership and the work we'll do together in the future.”

The entire cast of For the People will make their Guthrie mainstage debuts with this production, including Ernest Briggs (White Earth Nation) as Levi Mitchell, Sheri Foster Blake (Cherokee Nation) as Daisy Childs, Kendall Kent as Esme Williams, Kalani Queypo (Native Hawaiian and Blackfeet Descent) as Robert Dakota, Katie Anvil Rich (Cherokee and Chickasaw Descent) as April Dakota, Wes Studi (Cherokee Nation) as Herb O'Geezhik, Nathaniel TwoBears (Ho-Chunk Nation) as Sage Piewannakwat and Adrienne Zimiga-January (Citizen of the Oglala Lakota Nation) as Commissioner Bobbie Grey.

The creative team includes Ty Defoe (Citizen of Anishinaabe and Oneida Nations) (Playwright), Larissa FastHorse (Sicangu Lakota Nation) (Playwright), Michael John Garcés (Director), Tanya Orellana (Scenic Designer), Lux Haac (Pequot and Choctaw Descent) (Costume Designer), Emma Deane (Citizen of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation) (Lighting Designer), Victor Zupanc (Sound Designer), Carla Steen (Resident Dramaturg), Keely Wolter (Vocal Coach), Aaron Preusse (Fight Director), Sara Pillatzki-Warzeha (Enrolled Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate, Dakota/German Descent) (Dakota Language Consultant/Assistant Director), Talon Bazille Ducheneaux (Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, Lakhota, and Crow Creek Sioux Tribe, Dakota) (Indigenous Music Consultant), Jennifer Liestman (Resident Casting Director), Lori Lundquist (Stage Manager), Anna Baranski (Assistant Stage Manager) and McCorkle Casting, Ltd. (NYC Casting Consultant).

In For the People, April Dakota has well-meaning but misguided dreams of opening a wellness center on Franklin Avenue to serve the Indigenous community in her Minneapolis hometown. She's counting on a grant from the Franklin Avenue Task Force — a group of endearing Native elders and leaders — to make it happen. But her presentation goes sideways and her proposal is rejected, forcing her to make a decision that puts her dream, the community and her culture at risk. Thankfully, the Task Force pulls together to help April fight for the future of Franklin Avenue and the people who call it home.

Playwright Ty Defoe (Citizen of Anishinaabe and Oneida Nations) is a Grammy Award-winning interdisciplinary artist. As a sovereign story trickster, he aspires to an interweaving and glitterizing approach to artistic projects. Defoe has earned fellowships from Robert Rauschenberg, MacDowell, Sundance Institute, First Peoples and The Kennedy Center's Next 50. Defoe creates work with Broadway productions, rural communities and in the digital metaverse in VR/XR, fostering relations for Indigenous and decolonial futures. Notable mentions include the Helen Merrill Playwriting and Jonathan Larson Awards (for book and lyrics). Defoe has presented work at The Momentary at Crystal Bridges, Lincoln Center, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Live In America, Carnegie Hall and Park Avenue Armory. He has earned degrees from CalArts (B.F.A.), Goddard College (M.F.A.) and NYU Tisch School of the Arts (M.F.A.). Defoe is co-founder of Indigenous Direction with Larissa FastHorse and a professor of practice in Medieval and Renaissance Studies at Arizona State University. He lives in New York City. Learn more at or

Playwright Larissa FastHorse (Sicangu Lakota Nation) is an award-winning writer and 2020 MacArthur Fellow. Her satirical comedy The Thanksgiving Play made her the first known female Native American playwright on Broadway. Selected past plays include the national tour of Peter Pan (Networks), What Would Crazy Horse Do? (KCRep), Landless, Cow Pie Bingo (Alter Theater) and Average Family (Children's Theatre Company) as well as numerous productions of The Thanksgiving Play, making it one of the most-produced plays in America. Alongside Michael John Garcés, FastHorse also created the nationally recognized trilogy of community-engaged theatrical experiences with Cornerstone Theater Company: Urban Rez, Native Nation and Wicoun. FastHorse also writes in film and television. Together, FastHorse and Ty Defoe lead Indigenous Direction. She recently joined Arizona State University's English Department as a professor of practice (Literature), working alongside Defoe and Garcés. FastHorse is based in Los Angeles with her husband, the sculptor Edd Hogan. Learn more at

Michael John Garcés (Director) is a playwright, a director and the former Artistic Director of Cornerstone Theater Company, a community-engaged, ensemble-based theater in Los Angeles, where he served for the past 17 years. In addition to directing plays by Larissa FastHorse, including Wicoun, Urban Rez and Native Nation, other selected directing credits include The Royale (Arizona Theatre Company), The Just and the Blind (Carnegie Hall/The Kennedy Center), Epic (Great Plains Theatre Conference), What Happens Next (La Jolla Playhouse), The Arsonists (Woolly Mammoth) and Wrestling Jerusalem (various venues including the Guthrie Theater, Cleveland Public Theatre and Philadelphia Theatre Company). He also co-directed The Falls at the Guthrie in 2006. Garcés is a recipient of the Doris Duke Artist Award, Princess Grace Statue Award and Alan Schneider Director Award. He currently serves as Executive Vice President for the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society.

For the People is sponsored by U.S. Bank and generously supported by The Joyce Foundation.

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