Those familiar with Native Voices may also be familiar with The Frybread Queen as well as its creator Carolyn Dunn. Carolyn has been a long-time friend of Native Voices having participated in our past retreat and festivals as both a playwright and actor (most recently as an actor in Time Immemorial alongside Kalani Queypo) as well as in our collaborations with Native American Public Telecommunications as a director.
Now, if one were to glance at our 2010-2011 Season, it may seem like we've taken our friendship with Carolyn to the "Fatal Attraction" level; some may even say we should go ahead and nickname this season "The Carolyn Year." We are, after all, featuring not one, but three presentations of her latest play The Frybread Queen: once in Montana next month and twice at the Autry National Center in November and March. Why the redundancy, you ask? Doesn't Native Voices have other plays to choose from? Well, yes, we do have other plays on our list but our persistence with Frybread Queen has nothing to do with a lack of options. Our relentlessness with the play has to do with the fact that we are a development company committed to seeing Frybread Queen fully realized on stage.
Our journey with The Frybread Queen actually began back in 2007 when Carolyn was invited to participate in our Playwrights Retreat at the University of California, Los Angeles. After that, we featured the play during our 2008 First Look Series with the lovely ladies pictured above in the roles of Annalee, Jessie, Lily, and Carlisle. After hearing our audiences' feedback on the play, we decided to pursue the work further and gave Carolyn a slot during our 2009 Retreat and Festival which was held in San Diego and Los Angeles. It was there that Carolyn first teamed with Robert Caisley as a dramaturg. Rob, who has been with Native Voices since its inception, brought the play to his good friend, Jere Hodgin, the Head of Acting/ Directing at the University of Montana. Jere and Rob will spearhead The Frybread Queen's Developmental Production at Montana Rep with Native Voices as co-producers then the play will return to the Autry National Center for a presentation during November's American Indian Arts Marketplace all leading to its Equity production at the Wells Fargo Theatre in March of next year.
Needless to say, it takes a lot of workshops to prep a play for the stage and The Frybread Queen is no exception. But because we unwaveringly committed ourselves to Carolyn as an artist and because we dedicated ourselves to this play and to these characters, we're now thisclose to seeing this story that we've lived with for three years finally come to life. So, where some may view our upcoming season as one of redundancy, I actually see it as a mark of accomplishment. It's a testament to Native Voices' tenacity and success as a development company and, let's be honest, we couldn't do any less for a queen, now could we?