Playwrights Horizons Presents INDIGENOUS VOICES: A Reading Series
Playwrights Horizons (Artistic Director Tim Sanford, Managing Director Leslie Marcus) presents Indigenous Voices: A Reading Series, organized by 2018-2019 Guest Curator, artist and choreographer Emily Johnson (November 1 & 6). Each season, Playwrights Horizons brings on a member of the larger New York arts community as a Guest Curator to work with the Playwrights staff. In a program complementing the world premiere of Larissa Fasthorse's side-splitting comedy The Thanksgiving Play (through November 25), Johnson, an Alaskan native of Yup'ik descent, brings together four works from Indigenous writers in two free, open to the public evenings of readings.
The November 1 event-at Playwrights Horizons' South Rehearsal Studio-will feature a reading of Stephanie V. Shay Mitchell's How I Ended up on Craigslist, directed by Brett Hecksher, and Vicky Ramirez's Stand-off at Hwy #37, directed by Ryan Victor Pierce. The November 6 event, held in Playwrights Horizons' Peter Jay Sharp Theater, will feature a reading of Madeleine Sayet's solo performance piece Where We Belong, directed by Mei Ann Teo, and an excerpt of Return to Blueprint,written by Tokala Two Elk as told to Dawn Jones, and directed by JJ Lind. (See more detailed schedule and descriptions below.)
These readings happen amidst performances of PEN USA Literary Award for Drama-winning playwright Larissa Fasthorse's hilarious The Thanksgiving Play, the second production in Playwrights Horizons' 2018-2019 season of "topicality and risk" (The New York Times). The Thanksgiving Play, directed by Moritz von Stuelpnagel,falls right in time for the titular holiday-and follows well-intentioned white teaching artists as they scramble to create an ambitious "woke" Thanksgiving pageant that also celebrates Native American Heritage Month...and quells their white guilt...and satisfies their lofty artistic impulses...as part of an "All School Turkey Trot."
The Playwrights Horizons staging of The Thanksgiving Play marks FastHorse's first full production in New York. Now based in Santa Monica, FastHorse grew up in South Dakota and is an enrolled member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, Sicangu Lakota Nation. She came to theater in her 30s, after having sustained a career as a ballet dancer, then having written for the small screen. Feeling that the stories she wanted to tell-whether speaking with specificity to Indigenous experiences, or lampooning unjust structures-would inevitably be watered down in Hollywood, she turned to playwriting, penning works including What Would Crazy Horse Do?, Urban Rez, Landless, Average Family, Teaching Disco Squaredancing to Our Elders: a Class Presentation, and Cherokee Family Reunion.
FastHorse says, "I give two challenges to every theater that I've worked with: I challenge them that my art should not be the only Indigenous art in the season and I should not be the only Indigenous person being paid in the season. I did that in my first play, and I've done that in every play-and Playwrights Horizons has done a ton of work. We just had 'NDN 101' time with the whole staff-so that we're all going at this together, understanding who this community is, and understanding cultural competencies to make it more welcoming to Indigenous people. I'm really proud of how they've taken my challenges to heart."
The Thanksgiving Play's cast includes Jennifer Bareilles (Valer, Maybe Tomorrow) as Logan; Jeffrey Bean (Broadway: Bells Are Ringing, Amadeus) as Caden; Greg Keller (Broadway: Our Mother's Brief Affair; The Humans, Office Hour) as Jaxton; and Margo Seibert (Broadway: In Transit, Rocky) as Alicia. The creative team includes Wilson Chin (scenic design), Tilly Grimes (costume and puppet design), Isabella Byrd (lighting design), Mikaal Sulaiman (sound design), and Katie Ailinger (Production Stage Manager).
Reading Series Events
November 1 at 7pm
How I Ended Up on Craigslist
Written by Stephanie V. Shay Mitchell
Directed by Brett Hecksher
How I Ended Up On Craigslist is a fictionalized version of events from the 1700's that culminated in the real life story of Six Wabanaki scalps being posted for sale on the popular website, Craigslist in 2009.
Stand-off at Hwy #37
Written by Vickie Ramirez
Directed by Ryan Victor Pierce
Thomas, a young National Guardsman and a banded member of the Tuscarora Nation, must choose between divided loyalties when he is sent with his unit to "control" a land claim protest on a local reservation.
Free and open to the public. RSVP here.
November 6 at 7pm
Peter Jay Sharp Theater
Where We Belong is a solo performance piece interrogating notions of belonging in a globalized world. As the descendent of generations of Mohegan Medicine People, Madeline Sayet uses her personal narrative, the legacy of her ancestors who travelled to London in the 1700s, and traditional storytelling to ask what it means to be Native and foreign today.
An excerpt from
Return to Blueprint
Written by Tokala Two Elk as told to Dawn Jones
Directed by JJ Lind
At one time, our spiritual energy was 100%, it was pure and strong. To catch what's left of the Wo [sacred energy] of our people, catch the fragments and put them back together again as a whole. So it begins...
Free and open to the public. RSVP here.
The Thanksgiving Play Performance Schedule and Ticketing
Performances of The Thanksgiving Play take place through November 25: Tuesdays through Fridays at 7:30pm, Saturdays at 2pm and 7:30pm, and Sundays at 2pm and 7pm.
Critics are welcome Oct. 31 at 7:30pm, Nov. 1 & 2 at 7:30pm, Nov 3 at 2pm and 7:30pm, and Nov 4 at 7pm.
A Six-Show Subscription package to Playwrights Horizons' 2018-19 season is now available ($310, four Mainstage and two Peter Jay Sharp Theater productions). In addition to discounts on all season productions, subscribers receive priority booking and seating, ticket exchange privileges, parking and dining discounts, and exclusive mailings of Playwrights Horizons Bulletins. Flex Passes (customizable bundle, $220+) and Memberships ($45 to join, $25 preview tickets) are also now on sale. Patron packages start at $1,750. Packages are available at phnyc.org.