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AlterTheater Returns In Person With PURE NATIVE

AlterTheater Returns In Person With PURE NATIVE

This summer, AlterTheater reopens with in-person audiences. For the first time in its 17 year history, AlterTheater will perform outdoors, with a new play by Tuscarora writer Vickie Ramirez, Pure Native.

"I'm extremely excited to work on this play with Vickie," says artistic director Jeanette Harrison. "Pure Native is at once a uniquely Indigenous story, but it also tells a timely story about a deeply polarized community. I'm so glad that we finally get to do this play." Pure Native was originally slated for Alter's 2020 season.

"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 with both sides meaning well, but neither one willing to compromise.

"I believe the play is particularly resonant for the American culture at large," says Ramirez. "I believe people will embrace a story about a community divided against itself and that there are no simple solutions."

Pre-pandemic, AlterTheater performed in storefronts along downtown San Rafael's Fourth Street. During the pandemic, the company began producing audio plays like Br'er Peach, and just wrapped filming on Snag, which will play this fall to audiences.

"We've reopened in stages-first, with actors and audiences in their homes, with Br'er Peach," says Fran Astorga, AlterTheater's producing artistic director. AlterTheater joined forces with The Parsnip Ship to co-produce the audio play, developed in AlterTheater's playwright residency program. Br'er Peach is available for free on The Parsnip Ship's podcast play channels. "Then we brought actors in person, but with audiences at home. Now, we return to the heart of live theater-live actors together with live audiences, and performed outdoors."

"I'm looking forward to being outdoors, in the fresh air, telling stories," says Harrison. "We are collaborating with our new friends at California Shakespeare Theater, bringing Alter's work to the East Bay for the first time, and we're so happy to be working with Alter's hometown, the City of San Rafael."

Premiered by Native Voices at the Autry, the nation's premiere Native American theater company, Pure Native received developmental support from Oregon Shakespeare Festival's Brown Swan Lab and from New York's Eagle Project. This will be the first production of this version of the script.

AlterTheater develops and produces plays written and performed by the best established and emerging storytellers, presented where people live, work, or play. AlterTheater has always told stories in places where people are; for 15 years, the company performed in highly visible, non-traditional spaces, primarily storefronts in downtown San Rafael's pedestrian shopping district, with windows left clear, so passersby could "window shop" theater.

AlterTheater has been commissioning, developing and premiering new plays since 2008. Its AlterLab playwright residency focuses on writers from underrepresented communities: 85% of writers are women and a?" of writers identify as BIPOC (Black, Indigeneous, People of Color). While our cohorts are multi-ethnic, we've supported more Native playwrights than any other demographic (30%).

Playwright Vickie Ramirez (Tuscarora) is a founding member of Chukalokoli and Amerinda Theater. She is an alumna of The Public Theater's Emerging Writers Group (2009). Honors: Resident - New Dramatists 2025, Semi-finalist for Bay Area Playwrights Festival for Pure Native, Honorary Mention - The Kilroys List - 2019 for Pure Native and 2014 for Standoff At Hwy#37. Productions: Pure Native - Native Voices at the Autry (L.A.), Standoff at Hwy#37 - NV Autry and the University of South Dakota, Glenburn 12 WP - Summer Shorts at 59E59, Smoke - Mixed Phoenix Theatre Group at Pershing Square Signature Center. Published: Monologues for Actors of Color: Women, Monologues for Actors of Color: Men and Contemporary Plays by Women of Color Edition 2: (Routledge Press). Member: Dramatists Guild.

Director Jeanette Harrison has produced more than 25 world premiere and First Look productions with AlterTheater. She is the architect of AlterTheater's award-winning AlterLab playwright residency program. She co-directed with Ann Brebner THE RIVER BRIDE by Marisela Treviño Orta (2013 co-winner, National Latino Playwriting Award). Recent directing credits include a filmed adaptation of SNAG by Tara Moses; CIRCULAR by Laura Shamas; the award-winning productions of two AlterTheater commissions by Larissa Fasthorse (Sicangu Lakota), LANDLESS (2016 USA PEN Literary Award in Drama), and COW PIE BINGO (2018 Theatre Bay Area Award, Best Featured Actor); the multi-Theatre Bay Area Award-winner THE AMEN CORNER by James Baldwin, and A Midsummer Night's Dream, with the University of Southern California's BFA juniors. She's worked with many Bay Area theater companies, including Berkeley Rep, the Magic, Cutting Ball, Theatre Rhino, Aurora Theatre, Golden Thread, SF Shakes, Women's Will.

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