Call for Scripts - Take back the Land

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Native Voices at the Autry

Call for Scripts 2016-2017

*Please note that we only accept submissions written for the stage or theatre by Native American, Alaska Native, Hawaiian, and First Nations artists.

For Short Plays
Deadline: August 19, 2016
Short plays submitted by August 19, 2016 will be considered for Native Voices’ 6th Annual Short Play Festival, to take place in November 2016 at the American Indian Arts Marketplace at the Autry in Los Angeles, and at La Jolla Playhouse in San Diego. Read more about the theme for the Short Play Festival below.

The 6th Annual Short Play Festival
This year’s short play festival theme is Take Back the Land. Native Voices invites playwrights to address topics surrounding their environment from an indigenous perspective. Climate change, resources, sustainability, GMO’s, border and land disputes, spiritual ties to land– these are among the many themes that may be explored in short play submissions. Plays may focus on historical or present-day issues, or on the problems future generations will face. Water shortages, overpopulation, extreme weather, firestorms, greenhouse emissions, scarcity of fish and game, poisoned water supplies… are we doing enough to preserve the traditional homelands of the first peoples? Of the planet? How are indigenous lives affected by the rapidly changing, industrial and globalized world in which we live? What are unique environmental issues faced by Native communities– and what, if anything, can we do to change them?

Selection Process: Short plays (15 page maximum) that are related to the theme and are received by August 19, 2016 will be read and evaluated by a national reading panel comprised of Native American theatre artists and community members along with nationally-recognized theatre artists. The panel will select 5 to 8 plays for the festival based on the creative use of the theme, originality, theatricality, and execution.
Selected plays will be given a staged reading on November 13, 2016 as part of the Autry National Center’s American Indian Arts Marketplace and again in San Diego at La Jolla Playhouse on November 14, 2016.  A panel of judges will select the 2016 Von Marie Atchley Award for Excellence in Playwriting, a $1,000 cash prize!
Plays that are longer than 15 pages will not be considered for the Short Play Festival. Please note that the Short Play Festival is only open to Native American, Alaska Native, and First Nations Playwrights.
Plays must be submitted using our online submission form and in the correct format. Please see our “Checklist for All Submissions” below for further details.  

For Full-Length Plays

Deadline: October 21, 2016
Native Voices is currently accepting submissions of full-length plays (60+ pages) by Native American writers addressing all themes and topics.

2017 Playwrights Retreat and Festival of New Plays

The retreat and festival brings artists to Los Angeles to work on 3–5 plays through a rigorous directorial and dramaturgical commitment for 8–10 days in May/June. The retreat culminates in public presentations of the plays at the Autry Museum of the American West in Los Angeles and La Jolla Playhouse in San Diego. Selected playwrights receive directorial and dramaturgical support as well as an honorarium; out-of-town artists receive roundtrip airfare plus lodging in Southern California.

Selection Process: Full-length plays (60+ pages) received by October 21, 2016 will be read and evaluated. A select number of playwrights will be invited to submit formal proposals detailing their developmental goals should their play be chosen for the short list. Scripts will then be sent to a committee of nationally recognized theatre artists for further evaluation. With their help, Native Voices selects up to five plays for the Playwrights Retreat and Festival of New Plays. Playwrights will be notified in January 2017.

A Note About the Native Voices Distance Dramaturgy Process

Months prior to residencies at the Playwrights Retreat and Festival of New Plays, selected playwrights participate in dramaturgical conversations with an assigned director and dramaturg. Workshops with these creative teams and a cast of professional actors commence once the playwright arrives on-site. It is important to note that these conversations and workshops are playwright driven, allowing the writer to shape his/her own developmental path. Selected playwrights should be prepared to dedicate adequate time to this process prior to arriving on-site.

Checklist for All Submissions

  • Please label script attachment as follows: PlayTitle_Author’s Last Name, First Initial (Example: MyNewPlay_Doe, J.doc).
  • All submissions must conform to a standard play-script format (one-inch margins, #12 Times or Courier font, all pages numbered).
  • Include a title page with full contact information (mailing address, phone numbers, e-mail address) and a draft or revision date.
  • Include a character breakdown at the beginning of your script.
  • Provide a biography of 75–100 words. Please label attachment as follows: Bio_Author’s Last Name, First Initial (Example: Bio_Doe, J.doc).
  • Provide a press ready photo of at least 300dpi.  Please label attachment as follows: Photo_Author’s Last Name, First Initial (Example: Photo_Doe, J.doc).
  • Provide development history for the play. Label attachment as follows: DevHistory_PlayTitle_Author’s Last Name, First Initial (Example: DevHistory_MyNewPlay_Doe, J.doc).
  • To submit, fill out our online form and upload your submission materials here: Native Voices Script Submission Form
Please do not send treatments or outlines. Previously submitted plays should only be resubmitted if the play has undergone significant dramatic changes. Plays that are not selected are kept on file for consideration for future opportunities. Playwrights are encouraged to make multiple submissions (up to three per event), but selection will be limited to only one play per playwright, per event.
Where to Send Submissions
We now only accept electronic submission (in Word or PDF format).
To submit, fill out our online form and upload your materials here: Native Voices Script Submission Form

For More Information:
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Meet the Playwrights - Festival of New Plays

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Jason Grasl 
Lying with Badgers by Jason Grasl (Blackfeet)
A Blackfeet man faces his troubled relationship with his late father and his culture when he returns to his estranged family's remote mountain home.
Jason Grasl

What is your favorite thing about playwriting? 
The idea of ultimate creative freedom in any direction

What is your least favorite thing about playwriting?
The realization of the idea of ultimate creative freedom in any direction

What are your favorite plays?
The Pillowman by Martin McDonagh
Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead by Tom Stoppard
A Few Good Men by Aaron Sorkin

What’s the best cure for writer’s block?, listicles...wait are we talking about distractions or cures?

What play do you wish you had written and why?
Any play Shakespeare wrote.

What are you most looking forward to during the workshop and festival?
I wanna find out what I don't know about my characters yet. I'm also excited to see the progress of the other two plays from day 1 to the public reading.

Delanna Studi
And So We Walked by DeLanna Studi (Cherokee)
Accompanied by her father, a Cherokee artist-activist retraces her ancestors' footsteps along the Trail of Tears.
Delanna Studi

What is your favorite thing about playwriting?
It's my escape. I love creating a new world, telling stories, reimagining life. It's all about the journey that I am on and the one I hope the audience will take with me.

What is your least favorite thing about playwriting? 
The vulnerability of it all. It's scary showing up. It's downright terrifying to create something and then present it to the world, because what is created is an extension of all that is me: my dreams, my insecurities, my success, my shame. It's all there.

What is your favorite play?
Dear Lord, there are so many! I love "American Night" by the Culture Clash and "Party People" by Universes.  Robert Schenkkan's "All The Way". Mary Zimmerman's "White Snake".  I'm a little biased, but I love "August: Osage County".

What’s the best cure for writer’s block?
Writing. Just keep showing up. Sometime the Muse will meet me, but if not, he knows he can find me everyday from 9:00 to 1:00. 

What would the title be of the play/movie based on your life?
Haha. This is a trick question! "And So Walked". Or perhaps "Perfectionism: My Time in the Hamster Wheel"

What play do you wish you had written and why? 
Anything by Shakespeare or Chekov! Their mastery of language and craft boggles my mind. And yet, every time I see one of their plays, I am astounded by what I failed to notice before, or how it resonates differently with me as I have gotten older. 

Where do you get your inspiration for your work?
Life. My parents, my relatives, and the unique people I encounter in my travels that give me a glimpse into a new perspective.

What are you most looking forward to during the workshop and festival?
Surviving! I'm teasing (but only a little). I love seeing new works develop, their journey from beginning to end and all the possibilities in between! I love the collaboration, all the work that goes on behind the scenes to bring a version of a finished project to life.

Mary Kathryn Nagle
Fairly Traceable by Mary Kathryn Nagle (Cherokee)
In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, a young Ponca man pursues environmental law to expose the disastrous effects of man-made climate change.
Mary Kathryn Nagle

What is your favorite thing about playwriting?
The moment when the play grows from being something that exists exclusively in my mind or imagination and becomes a shared story. Nothing is more magical than the first moment you hear actors read the script aloud.

What is your least favorite thing about playwriting?
The isolation.  I am a rather social person, and it is hard for me to carve out sufficient time to be alone.

What is your favorite play?
Wings of Night Sky, Wings of Morning Light by Joy Harjo

What’s the best cure for writer’s block?
becoming a lawyer. I think because I'm a trained lawyer, I don't how to "not write." I certainly write a lot of things that are awful, stinky, and useless. So I am the Queen of Rewrites. But as a trained lawyer with continuous impending deadlines, stopping writing because it's "hard" to know what to write next is never an option. You just keep writing. Because you have to. So I don't really experience writers block. But like I said, I have experienced writing a lot that needs substantial revisions!

What would the title be of the play/movie based on your life? 
MKN: the Pontius Piranha

What play do you wish you had written and why?
An Octoroon because if I had written that play, I would have given Native People an authentic voice in the play and removed one more play from the American cannon where Native People are portrayed as nothing more than a prejudicial stereotype created in the 19th Century to support genocide.  

Where do you get your inspiration for your work?
My grandmother, Frances Polson, and my grandfathers, John Ridge and Major Ridge. My grandfathers sacrificed their lives to save the sovereignty of Cherokee Nation, and their sacrifice inspires me to share the stories that for hundreds of years in the United States, have been silenced.

What are you most looking forward to during the workshop and festival?
Watching the development of DeLanna and Jason's plays. I feel starved for Native theater in the United States. Native Voices is one of the only theaters in the United States committed to producing and developing Native plays. So it's not very often that I get to see the work of other Native playwrights come to life.

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Thoughts from an Actor - Boarding School Stories

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boarding school stories
This was actually my second time working on 'Stories from the Indian Boarding School'. My first go-around was during the Fringe Festival. We were a cast of 7, and I played the character 'Yellow'. I found out I was cast again, this time with a cast of 4, and as the character "Jesse". I got an email detailing our rehearsal, and show schedule and I was shocked at the amount of time we had to rehearse: 12 hours. I'm used to about a 4 week rehearsal process, so this was definitely terrifying for me. It meant I had to go in with all pistons firing, and ready to work. Which, I felt, everyone came into the room with. At the Q&A session at UCSD, I had mentioned how heavily we had to rely on each other to do the work, and I stand by that. My fellow cast members have been phenomenal, and I'm thrilled to have them in this with me. Touring has been a great experience. I love how the show adapts to each new space, and I love hearing how this show affects people. Many people, I've found, haven't really heard about the Indian boarding schools, and I'm grateful that I get to be a vessel for them to learn this part of our history.

By Alyssa Anderson

If you had the chance to see one of the performances, we'd love to hear your thoughts.  Leave a comment here, or on our Facebook page and if you'd like to see the performance live, consider Booking us to come to you!

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Thoughts of an Actor - Boarding School Stories

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After a year in development and a lot of hard work from our Ensemble, we have just finished 2 performances at Universities in California of our Boarding School Stories. 

We'll be featuring impressions of this experience from the cast and crew themselves.  If you had the chance to see one of the performances, we'd love to hear your thoughts.  Leave a comment here, or on our Facebook page and if you'd like to see the performance live, consider Booking us to come to you!


Carlisle Indian School
It has been a very enlightening experience to be apart of Stories From The Indian Boarding Schools. I joined the company after the staged reading of the play, and before the First performance at the Los Angeles Fringe Festival. It has been a wonderful gift to work on the play almost since it’s inception. What I find most profound about the play, is that the scenes are drawn from journals and first hand accounts of this tragic period. My knowledge of the Indian Boarding Schools before working on the play was not very extensive. I knew that the government mandated attendance. I was familiar with the general purpose of the Indian boarding schools, which was to civilize the “Indian Savage”. In truth, it’s one thing to read about the modernization of Indians in a text book, and totally different to read first hand accounts of the destruction of culture from the students themselves. It truly is a rare gift for an actor to be apart of the creative process. These stories become apart of you and you cannot help but feel as though you know the characters intimately. I would also attribute this to the source material because, the nature of these stories makes you instantly empathize with these poor children.

The company’s vision of the play from the beginning was to educate, inform, and transport the audience to the boarding schools. I am very grateful that I am apart of taking this play to universities and sharing these stories with students and faculty. We recently toured the production to Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo on November 17th and at UCSD in San Diego on December 1st. Taking the show on the road has taught me so much about the native community in California. The faculty and students at both Universities were so welcoming and truly engaged in the stories that we shared. There was such a wide range of knowledge from people that were first or second generation descendants of boarding school survivors to people that had never heard of the Indian Boarding Schools. The power of this play is that it brings people together and allows for a healing on a human scale. If the audience is familiar with the stories, or hearing them for the first time. The human experience is that were all struggling together and want to make the world a better place. I’d like to thank Jean and Randy Reinholtz, and Rob Vestal for bring me into this project. I’d also like to thank Heidi at Cal Poly and Julie at UCSD. This was such an incredible experience and I have grown and learned so much as a person.

By Alec Shamas
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