AlterTheater Announces 2021/2022 Season

AlterTheater will also continue its Arts Learning Project for Native Youth, to provide virtual performing arts workshops for Native youth in reservation communities.

By: Sep. 03, 2021

AlterTheater's first season since COVID-19 shut down the theater industry includes a mix of virtual programming and outdoor in-person work. AlterTheater will also continue its Arts Learning Project for Native Youth, created to provide virtual performing arts workshops for Native youth in reservation communities.

The season starts with an audio play by Andrew Saito, Br'er Peach, produced in collaboration with The Parsnip Ship and in association with Business Lunch Productions. The season continues with a much-needed comedic romp, Snag by Tara Moses. The season closes in Summer 2022 with the long-awaited, COVID-postponed Pure Native by Vickie Ramirez.

Winner of the 2020 Rella Lossy Award, Br'er Peach draws from African-American storytelling traditions, and weaves traditional elements from the Japanese folktale Momotaro, about a boy born from a giant magical peach, into a new story where spirited animals join the fight against the true ogres of corporate greed, racism, and the displacement of Black folk in rural Georgia. Br'er Peach previewed earlier this year, and officially opened with Dallas's Bishop Arts Theatre Center, before it comes home this fall to conclude its rolling world premiere run at AlterTheater.

"We're very excited about this model of producing audio plays," says Iyvon E., artistic director of The Parsnip Ship, which has been producing audio plays since 2015. "This is a way for theaters to continue to program diverse storytellers in ways that are accessible to audiences and the artists involved in creating a different kind of theatrical experience."

The season continues with Snag by Tara Moses. Designed to be a play within a film, Snag will be recorded in September, then edited and released in time for Valentine's Day. "Snag is the world's first Native American romantic comedy....we think!" says Moses.

Snag is the story of a son trying to save his parents' marriage by reminding them why they fell in love.

"I just want the world to laugh because we deserve a good time!" says Moses. "Honestly, the world deserves a good laugh and a good snag."

In approaching Snag, the artistic team is innovating a new hybrid form of storytelling. Written as a story within a story, the team is approaching the interior story as a play--to be filmed on the rehearsal deck of California Shakespeare Theater--while the bookends of the story live in more traditional film storytelling. The play within the story is the son recreating his parents' meet-cute and courtship. For that part, "we're going for the feel of live television from the 1950s, that sense of anything can happen," says artistic director Jeanette Harrison, who will be directing. "One of my favorite blooper reels is the animated "blooper" in Monsters, Inc, where they animate the boom mic falling into the shot. That deliberate behind-the-scenes feel is a special kind of magic, which has always been embedded in AlterTheater's storytelling. We're looking forward to incorporating that aesthetic into this new hybrid form of storytelling to create something that's a lot of fun."

The season ends with Pure Native by Vickie Ramirez.

"It broke my heart when we had to postpone this show because of COVID. This is the play I feel like I've been waiting for my whole life," says Harrison. "But after this year, I think this is the play everyone else needs to see, too."

"Pure Native is a play about divided loyalties and beliefs on the microcosm of a Haudenosaunee Reservation in upstate New York," says Ramirez. "The Rez is not in good shape, jobs are scarce, and a recent flood has strained the already overburdened community. A prodigal son returns with a seemingly lucrative solution. He works for a large water conglomerate that wants to license the water rights of the Rez and build a bottled water factory. This means jobs and many new opportunities for the community. However, Brewster's old flame, Connie, is a vocal opponent."

"I love Connie," says Harrison. "She's passionate about her community, and very determined to fight for what's best." Soon, the Rez is divided against itself.

Pure Native is at once a uniquely Indigenous story, but it also tells a timely story about a deeply polarized community.

Pure Native will perform outdoors for audiences. Br'er Peach and Snag will be available online. All three playwrights have been AlterLab resident playwrights.