Spotlight on playwright Carolyn Dunn for THE FRYBREAD QUEEN

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Carolyn Dunn (Muskogee Creek, Seminole, Cherokee) is a poet, playwright and scholar whose poetry, short fiction, and nonfiction have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies. She's the founding director of the American Indian Theatre Collective and her play Ghost Dance is currently in development with the Los Angeles Theatre Project. She's also a songwriter and member of the all–women Native drum group The Mankillers.

The Frybread Queen centers around three generations of Indian women who have come together for the funeral of a beloved son. The collision of personalities forces them to confront long-simmering tensions that threaten to tear them apart. This play was developed at Native Voices' 2007 Playwrights Retreat and during NV's 2008 First Look Series.

Native Voices: Briefly describe your play.
Carolyn Dunn: Four women, four frybread recipes, one man. Let the beans fall where they may.

NV: What do you hope your play will elicit in an audience member?
CD: That we are all haunted by ghosts and those ghosts can be many things- including home and landscape.

NV: Since you began developing this play for our Playwrights Retreat, what has been revealed to you that you didn't know when you first submitted the play to Native Voices?
CD: That the story may belong to one character over the other. There may be four characters with equal stage time, but only one is the protagonist.

NV: What drew you to the profession of playwriting?
CD: The ability to tell stories on a spatial level, a level of scale that isn't always present in fiction. Writing plays can be very freeing, and very restrictive too but I like the intimacy of dialog and the challenge of creating sensory space on many levels.

NV: Which plays or playwrights have you been influenced by?
CD: Lorca, Sam Shepard, Maria Irena Fornes, Caryl Churchill.

NV: If you could go back in time, which era would you visit?
CD: I wouldn't go back in time. I like running water, electricity, and MAC cosmetics. I'm a Hollywood Indian. I can't help it.

NV: What's the longest standing item on your "To Do" list?
CD: Lose 70 lbs!!!

NV: What is your greatest indulgence?
CD: Well-made blue cheese dressing.

NV: Fill in the blank: It's not theatre if it's not ______.
CD: It's not theatre if it's not Belgium.

NV: As you may know, our 2009-2010 Season marks Native Voices' Tenth Anniversary at the Autry. Where do you think Native theatre will be in the next ten years?
CD: Still just out of mainstream theatre because the public isn't ready for Indians to be out of the frontier and out of the "west". We will still be where really cool things are happening, but only a handful of people will know about it.


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