2011, What Will You Remember?

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It certainly has been an eventful year - from the hit production The Frybread Queen by Carolyn Dunn, to our Playwrights Retreat and Festival of New Plays in the Summer, to our very first and very successful Short Play Festival in November. We'd like to thank all of you who work with us, lend us your talents, and that support us, give feedback, and participate in our audiences. Without you, Native Voices would not be the premiere Native theatre company that it is. So as we head off into 2012, here is a quick (30 second) review of this past year with Native Voices. See you next year! And feel free to share with us your favorite 2011 Native Voices memories in the comments section!

Artist: Florence and the Machine
Song: Cosmic Love

Photos by Steven A. Soria, Kimberly Norris Guerrero, and NV Staff

Make your own slideshow with music at Animoto.
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Getting Started: 5 Tips on Writing Your First New Play

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Have a story to tell? Well, let’s get started.

We all have stories to tell. Some of them compelling and exciting. Some of them are about the dry toast I had for breakfast this morning. Either way, it’s in our human nature to tell stories and what better way than on stage! At Native Voices we produce and develop new plays, some from seasoned playwrights, but many from new writers who just have something to say. We want to see new voices from Native Americans reach a wide number of audiences, and the way to do that is to have people like you write!
Writing your first play may seem like a daunting task, and I’m not gonna lie. It is. It is a lot of hard work, but it will pay off tremendously in the end. There’s no other feeling like hearing actors reading your lines for the first time. But if you find yourself sitting in front of your computer staring at a blank Word document or keep thinking “I’ll just start writing after this episode of The Sing-Off, and do the dishes, and close my eyes for just a little…” don’t worry. First step in a long journey is always the toughest, right? Here are a few tips to help you get over that hump.

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It's been awhile since we’ve had a post on the blog at Native Voices. We’ve been tucked away at the Native Voices offices in Los Angeles and San Diego getting ready for our 2011-2012 Season and preparing for the many submissions we are about to receive during our Call For Scripts. We’ve got some exciting new programming around here coming up (including a Short Play Festival during the Autry American Indian Arts Marketplace!) and can’t wait to read through all those wonderful plays that are going to pass our desks.


And we are now also ready to rev up our blog engines, so check back here soon for our first official blog post of this new season to see some sneak peeks, special behind the scenes info, and simply talk about the state of Native American theatre.

See you soon!


The Native Voices Staff

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new chapter...

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photo by altf photography
as many of you know, my time with native voices at the autry has come to a close. it's been a great ride and i'm pleased with the work i'm leaving behind me. thank you for being such loyal followers of this blog and for accompanying (and indulging) me along my journey through native voices' literary processes. i'm sure the company's next blog manager will have an even more exciting perspective to share and i, like you, eagerly await the next post. in the meantime, i wish you all the best in your endeavors. may our cyber- paths cross again.
- carlenne
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The Bird House
By Diane Glancy
Randy Reinholz (Choctaw) is the Producing Artistic Director and Co- creator of Native Voices at the Autry as well as the Director of the School of Theatre, Television, and Film at San Diego State University. He has directed over fifty plays in the US, Australia, Mexico and Canada. As an actor, his theater credits include roles at Pennsylvania Centre Stage, Illinois Shakespeare Festival, Heartland Theatre Company, The Hanger Theatre in New York, and numerous roles at The Old Globe Theatre. He was a series regular on Days of Our Lives, and had roles on Pensacola, China Beach, and Tour of Duty, and the sci-fi film Dead Space.
Ellen Dostal is thrilled to be part of Diane Glancy’s new play The Bird House. For Native Voices, she has appeared in productions of Jump Kiss (also by Diane), Serra Springs, and The Berlin Blues, which toured NY and Washington D.C., plus a number of developmental workshop readings. Other L.A. credits include Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (Interact Theatre Co.), City of Angels (NoHo Arts Center) and Eastern Standard (Coast Playhouse). Regional/ Tours: The Big Deal (Theatre Museum, London in collaboration with Mercury Musicals), Sour Grapes (Copake Theatre, NY), Seesaw, Private Lives, Night Watch, Midsummer Night’s Dream. As a founding member of the Academy Repertory Company she has workshopped and performed roles in many new musicals like Bonnie & Clyde, At Home in Mitford, Idaho the Musical, and The Water, all part of ANMT’s reading series at The Colony Theatre. AEA/SAG/AFTRA.
Carla- Rae (Seneca, Mohawk) has done some form of acting for many years, though only during the past six years has she has focused entirely on her acting career. Her most recent theatre work has been in staged readings of Tombs of the Vanishing Indian by Marie Clements and The Bird House by Diane Glancy at Native Voices at the Autry. She also has had the privilege of working with the NYC off-B’way theatre group the Liguorian Players, founded and directed by Lenny Delgado. She played Angustias in The House of Bernarda Alba by Frederico Garcia Lorca and Hannah in Edith Stein by Arthur Giron. Her indie film feature role of Rebecca Stonefeather in the award-winning film Imprint won her a Best Supporting Actress Award from the American Indian Film Institute. Her most recent TV episodic guest star roles are in the ABC network series Scoundrels with Virginia Madsen and David James Elliot, PBS’s docudrama We Shall Remain: Trail of Tears, HBO’s Taking Chance, and the FOX series pilot of New Amsterdam, directed by Lasse Halstrom. More recently she and her husband have been creating web videos of her storytelling and children's story reading, with another web series soon coming, of her Quiet Time Words by Carla-Rae, a compilation of daily devotional words of encouragement. Originally from upstate New York, she now resides in L.A.

The Woman Who Was Captured by Ghosts
By Julie Pearson- Little Thunder
Kimberly Norris Guerrero (Colville, Salish-Kootenai, Cherokee) is a native Oklahoman and graduate of UCLA who has appeared on stage in Steel Magnolias (Circle Players/Nashville), Canticle of the Plains (Tapestry/Wichita), and in August: Osage County which she performed in Chicago, on Broadway, at the National Theatre in London, the Sydney Theatre Company in Australia and The Old Globe in San Diego. She recently joined Native Voices in the World Premiere of The Frybread Queen at the Autry in Los Angeles. Her film/TV credits include Grey’s Anatomy, Taking Chances, The Sopranos, Naturally Native, Hidalgo, and Seinfeld to name a few. In addition, she works with youth in tribal communities across North America utilizing creative expression as a tool to promote personal and community development.
Mary Mora Cordova (P'urhepecha, Yaqui, Luiseno) is a cancer survivor who has enjoyed performing in Native Voices' productions of Buz'Gem Blues and Teaching Disco Dancing To Our Elders; staged readings of Kino and Teresa; and various metaphoric characters for their Young Native Playwrights project. She has also performed leads in original works on stage such as  Katsina, based on the autobiography Sunchief (Herberger Theatre, AZ); St. Augustine's Confessions (PerrisChief Theatre); End Town (Hollywood Moguls Theatre). She played the matriarchal Senora Morena and years earlier played the flirtatious Margarita in California's Official State Outdoor play Ramona (Hemet, CA). Her favorite TV credits include recurring roles on Unsolved Mysteries. Her recent film credit is with writer/ director/ actor Charles S. Dutton in The Obama Effect. She would like to thank her husband Art, family, and her Autry friends for their continued support. Blessings!
Carla Nell (Chickasaw) has over 16 years experience acting and directing in the San Diego theatre community and is the artistic director of InnerMission Productions. She is an SDSU graduate with a BA in Theatre Arts. While at SDSU she was featured in the KPBS special documentary: Trial by Fire, The Making of a Theatre Professional. She is also a member of the Pasadena Playhouse Directors Lab West.
Michael Drummond is honored to return to Native Voices, where he was last seen as Carbon in Carbon Black. Other favorite roles include Puck in A Midsummer Night's Dream (Old Globe Theatre), Young Macduff in Macbeth (Old Globe Theatre), Randolph in Bye Bye Birdie (Welk Resort Theatre), and Orson in An American Christmas over the past six holiday seasons (Lambs Players Theatre). Television credits include Victorious, iCarly, America's Most Wanted, Everybody Hates Chris, Veronica Mars, and several commercials. In addition to acting, he enjoys photography, surfing, and scuba diving. 

Patrick J. Duffy is a performer, sound designer, and as an avid life learner - he is very excited for his first experience with Native Voices. Performance credits include Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde (Ion Theatre), Smoke on the Mountain, Joyful Noise, Fantasticks, Angel's Arms, Voysey Inheritance, An Ideal Husband, Rehearsal for Murder, Cold Comfort Farm, and South Pacific (Lamb's Players Theatre); Good Doctor, West Side Story (Moonlight/Avo), West Side Story (Limon Carr Prod.), Can Can, Guys & Dolls, West Side Story (Welk Resort Theatre); Scarlet Pimpernel, Good News (Starlight Theatre); Death and the Maiden (Stone Soup Theatre).  Sound Design credits include Smoke on the Mountain, Pump Boys and Dinettes, Godspell, Fantasticks, Boomers, Light in the Piazza, Secret Garden, American Rhythm (Lamb's Players Theatre). "The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool."
Huma Ahmed-Ghosh is a professor in the Department of Women's Studies at San Diego State University. She is also on the Advisory Committees of the Asian-Pacific Studies Program, Center for Islamic and Arabic Studies, and the International Security and Conflict Resolution Program. She has done extensive research in Afghanistan having visited the country six times since 2003. Her research in Afghanistan focuses on how Afghan women-run NGOs strategize women's rights within an Islamic state. She has published on immigrant Muslim women to the USA, women in Afghanistan, gender and Islam in Asia, Islamic and secular feminisms in the Middle East, and on issues of ageing and widowhood in India. She has also conducted Study Abroad Programs for SDSU students to India, China and Turkey. Some of the courses she teaches are on feminist theory, women in cross-cultural perspective, gender and Islam, and gender, war and peace.
Javier Guerrero is a native San Diegan who has been performing professionally since 1998. He studied acting under Randy Reinholz at San Diego State University for two years and then under Jim Wise for one year at Penn State Graduate School of Acting. He has worked for many professional theatre companies in San Diego and Los Angeles including Playwrights Project and Native Voices. He appears in many industrial videos, web ads, and commercials as well as the bad guy in a re-enactment on America's Most Wanted. He also performed the lead in the Station Master which debuted at Cygnet Theatre in Old Town San Diego. Represented by the Shamon Freitas Agency in San Diego.
The Playwrights Retreat kicks off in San Diego this Saturday, May 28 with the Festival of New Plays beginning next Thursday, June 2 at La Jolla Playhouse. For more information about our events or to purchase your tickets now, please visit our website.
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Spotlighting our Actors for CIKIUTEKLLUKU and UNGIPAMSUUKA

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Cikiuteklluku (Giving Something Away)
By Holly Christine Stanton
Thirza Defoe (Giizhiigoquay) is a Grammy Award winning artist widely known for hoop dancing, storytelling and cultural education. Her interest is laid in bridging an integral approach to artistic projects pulling in messages rooted through music, literature, video, and theatre. Her dedication and passion have been awarded in both the Native American and artists’ circles throughout the world. Her most recent award includes the National Endowments for the Arts for writing, compositions, and reconstructed choreography in Drum is Thunder, Flute is Wind. Her writing can be viewed in the Pitkin Review, Woody Guthrie Anthology, and the Thorny Locust Magazine. Acting roles: Dome of HeavenRoad Reps, and The Only Good Indian which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. She received a BFA at California Institute of the Arts and MFA from Goddard College in writing. Recently she received a Masters Fellowship to NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts Fall 2011.
Maxton Scott (Mohawk) is from Northern NY, all over the St. Lawrence River Valley. He is a veteran of OEF and OIF, serving 5 years with the 82nd Airborne Division as a Mechanic. A Sundancer and a member of Native American Church, he's also currently pursuing a degree in Acting at the New York Film Academy.
Rose- Yvonne Colletta (Lipan-Mescalero Apache) is delighted to return to the Playwrights Retreat. Raised in the U.S. and Brazil, she embraces the cultures she’s been honored to weave through. Acting credits include: Onion Skins & Angels, and The Origin of Corn (USA and Mexico bilingual TYA tours), American Rhythm at Lamb’s Players Theatre, Collected Shadows Edgefest Los Angeles, Luis Valdez's Bandido! at San Diego Repertory, and Jane Eyre at La Jolla Playhouse. With Native Voices at the Autry: Urban Tattoo, SUPER INDIAN, and Kino & Teresa. Behind the scenes, she has been a director, producer, stage manager, production manager, and writer. Her radio play, Melba's Medicine, was selected for production at the National Audio Theatre Festivals and imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival in Toronto, Canada. She holds a Master of Fine Arts degree in Musical Theatre from San Diego State University and is a proud member of Actors' Equity.
Jennifer Bobiwash (Ojibway) is an actor and writer from Canada. She has worked in film, television, and theatre and is currently in pre-production for a documentary and is working on a webseries, as well as writing and starring in another. Her one- person show There is No I in Indian will be premiering in the summer of 2011. You can find her on her Youtube Channel learning her native language. Represented by Redrock Entertainment Development. SAG 
Jacob Bruce graduated from the conservatory program at the University of Illinois with a BFA in acting. He appeared in plays around the city of Chicago including Orlando in As You Like It, Jed Rowan in The Kentucky Cycle, and The Creature in Playing With Fire. He then moved to Los Angeles and landed recurring roles on the shows Crossing Jordan and Roswell, as well as episodes of shows including ER, Las Vegas, Standoff, and American Dreams. He was also in the award-winning films Donut Run and Night of the Dog, the Hallmark movie Prairie Fever, and the horror feature The Rig. As a member of the Knightsbridge Theatre in Los Angeles, he played Randle P. McMurphy in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, a "Critics Pick" in Backstage West and co-created The $5 Only Improv Show. He was most recently seen in Yellow Face with Mo’olelo Performing Arts Company in San Diego.
Maggie Carney's credits include: Yellow Face (Mo'olelo), A Midsummer Night's Dream, Peter and the Starcatchers, Salsalandia! (La Jolla Playhouse), The Tempest and Bill Irwin’s Largely/NY (Seattle Repertory), Bad Dates- Thespie Award, Wilde Award Nomination for Haley Walker (BoarsHead), Bedroom Farce- Jeff Citation for Kate, Into the Woods- Jeff Citation Nomination for The Baker’s Wife (Touchstone), Smash- Jeff Citation for Hetty (Bailiwick), Almighty Bob (Theater at the Center), The Book of Liz (Roadworks), What the Butler Saw (Noble Fool), Ghetto (Famous Door), The Gamester (Northlight), Spite for Spite, A Phoenix Too Frequent (Writers’ Theatre). Other companies: WBEZ’s Stories on Stage, Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, the Poetry Foundation, The Second City, Creede Repertory Theatre,  Peninsula Players and the Wisconsin Shakespeare Festival.

Ungipamsuuka: My Story
By Susie Silook
Dawn Stern was born in Japan on a military base outside of Tokyo. Her father, a Vietnam veteran, was Creole (French, African, and Native American; tribal affiliation unknown), and her mother is Norwegian/ Scottish. She holds a BS in theatre performance from SIU-E and is honored to work with Native Voices at the Autry. Her Los Angeles credits include series regular roles on Viper, 413 Hope Street, Starhunter, and Nobody; a recurring role on The Young and the Restless; and more than twenty-five guest star appearances. She was last seen as a lawyer on NCIS–Los Angeles. Her favorite stage roles are by Shakespeare; she has played Kate, Lady Macbeth, Olivia, Paulina, and Goneril.
Jason Grasl (Blackfeet) is a veteran of stage, film, and commercial. His Native Voices acting credits include Teaching Disco Square Dancing to Our Elders and The Further Adventures of Super Indian, as well as an assistant director credit for Salvage. In 2010, he helped found the Fuller Theatre Company at Fuller Theological Seminary (where he attended grad school). Other stage credits include The Blame of Love (which he also co-wrote), From Little Seeds, Be the Hunter, Boomtown 1925, Tony n Tina’s Wedding, and Smell of the Kill. Film credits include Fantasy Football: The Movie, The Seminarian, April’s Fools, and Banking. Most recently, he had a recurring role in the webseries End Result. Represented theatrically by Kathleen Schultz and Associates. SAG/ AFTRA
Rob Guzzo's credits can be accessed through this link.
Elizabeth Frances (Cherokee) is truly excited and honored to be working with Native Voices again. Recent projects include The Frybread Queen (Native Voices World Premiere), The Lunacy Commission (Kirk Douglas Theater), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Shakespeare Santa Cruz), Julius Caesar (Shakespeare Santa Cruz), Detained in the Desert (Casa 0101), Tombs of the Vanishing Indian (reading with Native Voices at the Autry), Hamlet (Dir. Lenka Udovicki), Songs and Dances of Imaginary Lands (Dir. O-Lan Jones), and the Soltanoff/ Findlay Project (Center Theater Group). She holds a BFA from CalArts.
Shyla Marlin (Choctaw) Theatre credits include: The Frybread Queen, Native Voices at the Autry; Last Days of Judas Iscariot, UTM/Company of Angels; I Stand Before You Naked, Complex; On The Brink, 68 Cent Theatre; The Elephant and The Mayfly, Berkshire Theatre Festival; The Frontier, USC/DRC; Alphabet Play, USC/DRC; and Birdbath, Annex Theatre. Film and TV credits include Whatever It Takes (Sony); Lies and Alibis (Warner Bros.); Woo (New Line); Fashion House (MY TV); Saints & Sinners (MY TV); Minding the Store (TBS); Grace (32/12 Films); Spiritual Warriors (Gilgamesh Prods.); and A Starbuck’s Story (Anatomy Entertainment). Writing and producing credits include Still Standing (Theatre Asylum) and A Starbuck’s Story (“Best Short” FAIF Film Festival). A graduate of the University of Southern California, she studied Theatre and French.

Check back next week to meet the casts of The Bird House and The Woman Who Was Captured by Ghosts!
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The Woman Who Was Captured by Ghosts

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Our last Retreat and Festival play is The Woman Who Was Captured by Ghosts by Julie Pearson- Little Thunder which was featured during our 2008 Playwrights Retreat and Festival of New Plays. This story follows a Cheyenne woman as she faces her own mortality on a metaphysical journey to a place where tradition is the best medicine. Aiding Julie along her journey are Jere Hodgin, Julie Jensen, and Waylon Lenk.

Julie Pearson- Little Thunder, Playwright
Julie Pearson-Little Thunder (Creek) was raised in Denver, Colorado in a mixed-blood Creek family and discovered theater for the first time while she was in college. She moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1980 to work with an American Indian Theater Company of Oklahoma (ATICO). After AITCO folded, she co-founded Tulsa Indian Actors’ Workshop which is now known as Thunder Road Theater. Besides working with Thunder Road Theater, she's taught theater at Haskell Indian Nations University and Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. She's currently employed by the Oral Histories Department at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater.

Jere Hodgin, Director
Jere Hodgin has produced over 200 productions, many of which were new and premiere works, and his directing career includes more than 175 plays, operas, and musicals. For 20 years he was the Producing Artistic Director of Mill Mountain Theatre, where he founded the nationally recognized Norfolk Southern New Play Festival. He served as Artistic Director and Coproducer of Highlands Playhouse and has directed at numerous theatres, including Fulton Theatre, Pennsylvania Center Stage, Theatre Artists Studio, Walnut Street Theatre, the Barter Theatre, the Phoenix Theatre, and Wayside Theatre. He has directed new works at the Shenandoah Playwrights Retreat, the Missoula Writers Colony, the Phoenix Theatre's New Works Festival, and Native Voices at the Autry's Playwrights Retreat and Festival of New Plays. He has been a reader and judge for numerous national new play contests and competitions and chaired Native Voices' 2010 National Reading Panel. He recently directed the Native Voices/ Montana Repertory Theatre coproduction of The Frybread Queen in Missoula, Montana. He is a member of the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers, Actors' Equity Association, Theatre Communications Group, and the National Theatre Conference.

Julie Jensen, Dramaturg
Julie Jensen is the recipient of the Kennedy Center Award for New American Plays for White Money, the Joseph Jefferson Award for Best New Work for The Lost Vegas Series, and the LA Weekly Award for Best New Play for Two-Headed. She has received the McKnight National Playwriting Fellowship for Wait!, the TCG/NEA Playwriting Residency for Wait!, a major grant from the Pew Charitable Trusts for Dust Eaters, and the Edgerton Foundation Grant for Billion Dollar Baby. Her work has been produced in London and at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival as well as in this country in New York and theatres nationwide. She has been commissioned by Mark Taper Forum, ASK Theatre Projects, Kennedy Center, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Salt Lake Acting Company, Geva Theatre, Philadelphia Theatre Company, Penn State University, and Dramatic Publishing. Her work is published by Dramatic Publishing, Dramatists Play Service, and Playscripts, Inc. Her book Playwriting: Brief and Brilliant has just been published by Smith and Kraus. Her play She Was My Brother premiered in Tucson, AZ, at Borderlands Theatre, and was produced last fall by Plan-B Theatre in Salt Lake City. She is currently the Resident Playwright at Salt Lake Acting Company.

Waylon Lenk, Assistant Dramaturg
Waylon Lenk (Karuk) is a dramaturg and performer currently working at SUNY Stony Brook. He holds a B.A. in Theater and German Studies from Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon. He has worked as a dramaturg at Lewis & Clark, Camelot Theater in Talent, Oregon, and at Stony Brook. He has performed in everything from musical theater in Talent to Absurdist theater in Portland to traditional Karuk storytelling in New York and all over California. Notable credits include appearing as an “Emerging Storyteller” for the California Indian Storytelling Association back in 2003; A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Prince of Homburg, and The Balcony at Lewis & Clark; Brigadoon and Cabaret at Camelot Theater; and a new storytelling piece Stories of Our People at the Consortia of Administrators for Native American Rehabilitation’s conference in San Diego.

The Woman Who Was Captured by Ghosts will be presented at La Jolla Playhouse on Saturday, June 4 and at the Autry National Center on Saturday, June 18 at 4:00p. For tickets, please click here.

For a full listing of this year's Retreat and Festival participants, please click here and check back next week for some info on our fabulous actors.
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Bird House

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Our next two Retreat and Festival plays may sound familiar to Native Voices patrons. Playwright Diane Glancy is a long- time friend of Native Voices and we're proud to begin a new journey with her as we continue to develop her latest play, The Bird House. This play was featured during our 2010 First Look Series with Stephan Wolfert and Bryan Davidson at the helm. For the 2011 Retreat and Festival, direction will be led by Robert Caisley with dramaturgy by Shirley Fishman.

Diane Glancy (Cherokee) is professor emeritus at Macalester College. She lives in Shawnee Mission, Kansas. Native Voices has produced three of her plays, Jump Kiss, Stone Heart, and Salvage. In 2010, she made an independent film, The Dome of Heaven, which won the Native American Film Award at the Trail Dance Film Festival in Duncan, Oklahoma. A new collection of essays, The Dream of a Broken Field, is forthcoming in 2011 from the University of Nebraska Press. In 2010, Mammoth Publishers in Lawrence, Kansas, published her latest collection of poems, Stories of the Driven World. Her novels include The Reason for Crows, the story of Kateri Tekakwitha, a 17th century Mohawk converted to Christianity by the Jesuits; Pushing the Bear, a story about the 1838-39 Cherokee Trail of Tears.
Rob Caisley will be pulling double duty during this year's Retreat and Festival. In addition to directing Bird House, he will be serving as dramaturg for Susie Silook's play Ungipamsuuka (My Story). For information on Rob, please click here.
Shirley Fishman is the Director of Play Development at La Jolla Playhouse where she oversees commissions and projects in development. Dramaturgy credits at Native Voices: Wings of the Night Sky by Joy Harjo; Fancy Dancer by Dawn Dumont. At the Playhouse: John Leguizamo's Diary of a Madman, A Midsummer Night's DreamThe Night Watcher, 33 Variations, Zorro in Hell, The Wiz, among others. At The Public Theater: Jessica Hagedorn's Dogeaters; Two Sisters and a Piano by Nilo Cruz; Tina Landau's Space; Arthur Miller's The Ride Down Mt. Morgan; Tony Kushner's A Dybbuk: Or Between Two Worlds; David Henry Hwang's Golden Child; readings, workshops and co-curator of New Work Now! Festival. Also Sundance Theatre Lab (I Am My Own Wife; 36 Views; and The Laramie Project), Ojai Playwrights Festival, UC San Diego Baldwin Festival, USC Under Construction New Play Festival. M.F.A. Columbia University. Member LMDA.  

The Bird House will be presented at La Jolla Playhouse on Saturday, June 4 and at the Autry National Center on Saturday, June 18 at 1:00p. For tickets, please click here.

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Artwork and poem by Susan Scharpf, Design Consultant
Our second Retreat and Festival play by a Native Alaskan is Cikiuteklluku: Giving Something Away. Written by Holly Christine Stanton, Cikiuteklluku is about a young Yup’ik girl from rural Alaska who faces heartache when a non-Native couple adopts her baby. Holly's creative team includes director Ed Bourgeois and dramaturg Shelley Orr.

Holly Stanton, Playwright
Holly Stanton (Yupik Athabascan) is from Bethel, Alaska where she has been a Registered Nurse since 2004. After some reflection and consideration for her family, she made a career move to work as a Nurse II for the Bethel Public Health Center and is excited to be branching out into a new facet of nursing. Although this is her first foray into playwriting, she has always had an artistic flair and contributes occasionally to the local paper in Bethel. She is married to Michael Stanton and together they have four children, three stepchildren, and one grandchild. She considers her family her greatest accomplishment in life and is proud that all her children appear to be artistically inclined to both drawing and writing.

Ed Bourgeois, Director
Ed Bourgeois (Mohawk) applies his background as a professional actor, director, and producer to the development of Native Theater at the Alaska Native Heritage Center (ANHC). As General Director of Anchorage Opera (1996-2007) he was responsible for all operational and artistic functions of a $1M non-profit arts organization, directed mainstage productions and developed the Studio Theatre young artist program. As ANHC’s Director of Public Programs he has co-written and/or directed productions of Panik’s Revenge, Growing Up Native in Alaska, Raven’s Radio Hour, The Three Enemies, and Echoes, which was performed at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian. His production of Jack Dalton’s Assimilation was lauded by the Anchorage Daily News as “Best Play of 2010”. He is project director of the Alaska Native Playwrights Project, which in its first year saw the creation of nine new plays by indigenous writers.

Shelley Orr, Dramaturg
Shelley Orr teaches theatre history and dramaturgy in the graduate and undergraduate programs in the School of Theatre, Television, and Film at San Diego State University. Her publications have appeared in Theatre Journal, TheatreForum, and Theatre Topics. She co-edited a collection of essays entitled Performance and the City (Palgrave 2009). Her professional theatre credits include serving as a dramaturg for New York’s Classic Stage Company, La Jolla Playhouse, and the PlayLabs New Play Festival at The Playwrights' Center in Minneapolis. Most recently, she dramaturged the new play A Weekend With Pablo Picasso at the San Diego Repertory and 9 Parts of Desire at Mo`olelo Theatre. She holds an MFA in Dramaturgy from University of California, San Diego, and a PhD in Theatre Studies from the UCI/UCSD joint doctoral program. She is past president of the international professional association Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas (LMDA).

Cikiuteklluku: Giving Something Away will be presented at La Jolla Playhouse on Thursday, June 2 and at the Autry National Center on Thursday, June 16 at 7:30p. For tickets, please click here.

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This year's Retreat and Festival features two plays by Native Alaskan writers. One of the two is Ungipamsuuka (My Story) by Susie Silook. The play follows a sculptor who boldly confronts familial, cultural, and sexual trauma with the healing power of art. Helping Susie bring her story to life will be Stephan Wolfert, Robert Caisley, and Lauren Simon.

Susie Silook (Yupik) is a contemporary Inuit sculptor and published writer, originally from Gambell Alaska, who currently lives on Adak Island, on the Aleutian chain. Her work is included in many private collections and museums, including the Anchorage Museum of History and Art, the Eiteljorg, the De Young, and the Pratt museums. Her themes are taken from her Yupik culture, life experiences, and women’s issues, and incorporate ancestral design in the mediums of walrus ivory, whalebone, and wood. She is the recipient of the Eiteljorg and United States Artists awards, the Governor’s Individual Artist award, and a civil rights award from the Alaska Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

Stephan Wolfert left a career in the military for a life in the theatre after seeing Richard III. Since leaving the Army as an Infantry officer, he has received his MFA in Theatre from Trinity Rep Conservatory; created and directed the military segments for Twyla Tharp/Billy Joel’s Tony–award-winning Broadway musical Movin’ Out; created the largest touring Shakespeare Company in New England; and taught acting and Shakespeare at Cornell University. He currently teaches and directs at the Antelope Valley College, performs with three theatre companies in Los Angeles, and is the founding director of the Veterans Center for the Performing Arts. He was first seen in Native Voices at the Autry’s Please Do Not Touch the Indians and is elated to continue working with them.

Robert Caisley recently directed the LA World Premiere of Carolyn Dunn’s The Frybread Queen for Native Voices. He served as the production dramaturg on the developmental co-production of The Frybread Queen with Montana Repertory Theatre. He is Associate Professor of Theatre and Film and head of the Dramatic Writing Program at the University of Idaho and served as Idaho Repertory’s Artistic Director from 2001 to 2004. His full-length plays include Push, Kissing, Good Clean Fun, Letters to an Alien, The Lake, The 22-Day Adagio, Kite’s Book and Front. His work has been presented at various theatres including the Walnut Street Theatre, Montana Actors Theatre, Idaho Theatre for Youth, Portland Stage Company, Mill Mountain Theatre, New Theatre, Theatre Artists Studio, Phoenix Theatre’s Festival of New Works, the Great Plains Theatre Conference, and the Last Frontier Theatre Conference. His numerous short plays include Hungry 4 U, Western Mentality, The Apology and Santa Fe, which was a finalist for the 2004 Heideman Award from Actors Theatre of Louisville and originally produced by New York’s Stageworks/Hudson as part of the 2005 Play by Play Festival. His new play, Winter, is scheduled for production at New Theatre in Miami this January. He was recently named as the 2011 Blaine Quarnstrom Visiting Playwright-in-Residence at the University of Southern Mississippi.

Lauren Simon is a playwright, journalist, dramaturg and MFA candidate in dramatic writing at University of Idaho. Her play, Adoration of Dora, part of Moxie Theatre’s Fighting Words Festival in 2010, premieres at University of Idaho in September 2011. Other recent performances of her work include Moscow, which placed first among short plays at the ACTF Region VII Festival in February, and Mi Corazon, a play for young audiences, at Missoula Colony last summer. An excerpt from Mi Corazon will appear in the forthcoming Scenes from a Diverse World, published by the International Centre for Women Playwrights. She recently served as dramaturg for San Diego State’s recent production of Paradise Hotel.

Ungipamsuuka will be presented at La Jolla Playhouse on Friday, June 3 and at the Autry National Center on Friday, June 17 at 7:30p. For tickets, please click here. 
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August: Osage County + The Frybread Queen

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Guest post by Kimberly Norris Guerrero
The Indian Out of the Attic
Comparing August: Osage County and The Frybread Queen

For over 800 performances, I was blessed to be able to walk in the flipflops of one of the most enigmatic characters in modern American theatre. A Cheyenne from Oklahoma, Johnna Monevata cooked, cleaned and cared for the Weston family in Tracy Lett’s Tony and Pulitzer Prize winning play August: Osage County. Johnna kept her mouth shut, her head down, didn’t judge, didn’t comment, intervened only when necessary and no matter how bleak it got in the Weston house, never skipped a beat. How? She’d seen much worse.

Those who have read or seen August and want to know Johnna’s side of the story can garner valuable insight into Native American reality by watching Carolyn Dunn’s new play, The Frybread Queen which celebrated its world premiere produced by Native Voices at The Autry Museum in Los Angeles on March 12th. The similarities between the two plays are almost eerie, especially when you realize that Dunn and Letts were writing the pieces at the same time lending credence to the existence of a collective creative consciousness.

Like August: Osage County, The Frybread Queen is a female driven story deftly blending comedy and tragedy where the characters are tied by blood and marriage, represent three generations and have swept painful truths under the carpet—or for the sake of this discussion the Navajo rug—for so many years that it has risen to the height of K2. Also like the Westons, the family of the The Frybread Queen gathers at the old homestead set in rural America, this time the Navajo rez in lieu of “the plains”, to mourn the suicide of a beloved male family member who both plays refer to as “complicated”.

My character in The Frybread Queen, Annalee, a Muscogee Creek originally from Tulsa (where Johnna attended nursing school), is on a mission to scale and conquer the mountain of lies in order to save her teenaged stepdaughter from her ex-mother-in-law’s haunted house much as Johnna saved the teenager from the evil lurking in the Weston house. As Johnna, I nursed a character dying from cancer, as Annalee I am the one dying from lung cancer, the disease which sadly took our original Beverly Weston, the playwright’s father, Dennis Letts one month after we opened on Broadway.

Perhaps the most poignant similarity is that in both plays, I am left alone on stage at the end of the story with the matriarch. The two elders, metaphorical representatives of their respective cultures are forced to choose between perpetuating or breaking the cycle of abuse, addiction and unforgiveness that has spiritually poisoned both of their families for generations. They make very different choices but the T.S. Elliot poem Johnna chants at the end of August: Osage County rings true for both: "this is the way the world ends, this is the way the world ends, this is the way the world ends"...one with a despairing whimper, the other with a glorious bang.

The Frybread Queen closes at The Autry this Sunday, March 27. For tickets or more information, please click here.
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More Than One Way to Make Frybread

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A note from Robert Caisley, the director of Frybread Queen, regarding the recipes that are featured in the show.
Each of the very strong, opinionated, passionate women in the play has their own unique take on how to make frybread. The monologues, in which they relate their recipes to the audience, function in several ways. They are an attempt by each character to assert some kind of “authority” over the past, and to take some kind of control over the future. These women are competing, both literally and metaphorically, to be the real frybread queen in the play. 
The monologues take place outside the time and space of the rest of the play. They violate the unity of the narrative, and as such, they are jolting (in a good way) to the senses. They are moments in which the dramatic tension of the play is momentarily suspended so we can offer some respite, some editorial comment, perhaps some time for the audience to reflect. They are meta-theatrical. They unselfconsciously break the 4th wall that the rest of the play adheres to. They offer commentary on the preceding act and cast some shadow over the action which is about to unfold in the following act. They give us a glimpse into the interior life of the characters as they exist outside the central conflict of the play – perhaps a moment in time that represents a “better” time in the lives of these women? 
Jessie, for example, takes great pride in relating her recipe. Perhaps the domestic chores like cooking frybread have been a distraction from the turbulence of her home life with a physically and emotionally abusive husband and an alcoholic son. The familiar recipe as refuge. Her blue ribbon was perhaps the only “merit badge” she had received that told her she was doing a good job as a mother, and so she clings to this victory fiercely. Pride in her recipe, is pride in her ability to survive in the face of extreme adversity. She has tried so hard to keep some semblance of a family together and frybread is part of the tie that binds. The other women’s recipes are alternately ironic, cynical, and comic. 
I like to think of the monologues as “unguarded moments” for each of the women in the play. They are not being observed like they are in the rest of the play. We are able to see a side of them we don’t see at other times in the play.  
Frybread is both a comfort food (practically speaking) and a cancer (culturally speaking - according to Lily’s monologue.) Monologues are moments in which a character is able to speak w/o judgment. In a family in which everyone’s past behavior and current motives are being constantly scrutinized by every other character on stage, these monologues give us rare glimpses of these women not under pressure. The frybread recipes provide us with moments of seeming impartiality. However, the playwright has been careful in how she has constructed the recipes … because we slowly learn as the play goes on that these recipes are anything but impartial, and reflect the essential agenda of each of the women. It’s not just a simple recipe with slight variations; the monologues are just as opinionated as the women are in the rest of the play. They are asserting their moral, ethical and emotional rights in these monologues. It is their appeal to the audience to “root for me.” “I’m right.” “I’m the frybread queen.” 
In a play that is substantially about the specter of past, and the destructive power of blame and denial, these recipe monologues are a refreshing affirmation of the curative effects of love, home, motherhood, cooking, and the tremendous emotional strength of each of the women in this play.
For more information about The Frybread Queen, please visit our website.
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What Happens Next?

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Scripts, scripts, scripts. For a company that only develops and produces new plays, you can imagine the amount of paper we go through to get the submissions we receive read, evaluated, and catalogued in our database. The most frequently asked question I receive regarding our plays is "what happens next?" Meaning, once a playwright submits a script, what else is there to expect from us? This post is dedicated to those playwrights (or those curious about the process).

Everything starts with the play. A play is received by our offices via email or snail mail and is directly routed to me. Once I ensure that all the guidelines have been met, I contact the playwright directly giving him an approximate time of when he can expect to hear from us should his play be selected for a developmental event. This is an extremely important point as we do not contact playwrights who have not been selected for a slot. Of course, if an un-selected playwright were to to inquire about the status of his play, I would be more than happy to discuss the play with him but this is done on a case-by-case basis and I think you'll find that most professional theatre companies operate in this way.

Next, scripts are placed in groups of five based on the order in which they were received and sent to a professional reader for coverage. Coverage, for our purposes, consists of a detailed plot synopsis of the play and the reader's personal recommendations to Native Voices. Our readers represent a variety of cultural, educational, and geographical backgrounds and they are all aware of the company's mission and  purpose. Plays that receive high scores from our readers will be placed on the top of my personal reading list; those that receive middle-of-the-road scores are placed at the bottom of that list. 

Then I evaluate every play that's been placed on my personal reading list and score each of them individually. As I sort through the plays, I try to find ones that tell a meaningful story by playwrights who have a unique voice. I look for strong characters; characters who I want to live vicariously through; characters who I can identify with. I also look for plays that are theatrical - plays that go beyond three people sitting around a dining room table discussing how their day went. Plays need conflict, they need a dilemma, something has to happen in order to gain the interest of your reader and, more importantly, the interest of your audience member. I want to be able to put the play down and feel as if my life has been bettered by having read it. Now those may sound like lofty goals but, trust me, we have been lucky enough to receive plays that have that criteria.

After I score the scripts, I compile a list of my top plays and send that to Randy and Jean who then have their own criteria the plays have to meet. Then the three of us get together and select the top ten scripts that will be sent to a National Reading Panel for further evaluation. Like our readers, our panelists represent a variety of backgrounds but, in addition, they are a group of nationally recognized theatre artists and Native community leaders. It is with their aid that we ultimately select the handful of plays we will offer developmental opportunities to during our season. 

It is a rigorous process, one that involves a multitude of steps and an array of people. I think playwrights would be surprised to learn that the play selection process for Native Voices includes much more than just the company's artistic staff. That when a play is selected (or not selected) for an opportunity with the company, that decision is supported by a variety of voices, not just our own. 

I hope this helped dispel the enigma that can surround a company's play selection process. I think some playwrights get discouraged when they submit to a company time and time again and don't get selected. Don't let that stop you from working on your play. You can always ask us for feedback and, as an artist, you can also take the initiative to host your own opportunities for development. Join a writers group, ask a dramaturg- friend or someone with a critical mind to provide you with some notes, invite a group of actor- friends to your place or even your local coffee- house and hold an informal reading of your play to each other. Also, Native Voices isn't the only company accepting scripts. Visit our "Links and Resources" page to find other opportunities to submit your work to. Most importantly, never stop writing. Your stories need to be shared.

Native Voices accepts scripts all year. For a look at our Submission Guidelines, please click here.
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Introducing our Frybread Queens

We are proud to announce our cast for our upcoming production of Carolyn Dunn's The Frybread Queen. Check back here often for more information about our entire team and be sure to save the date for Frybread's opening: Saturday, March 12, 2011!
Jane Lind (Aleut) will portray Jessie Burns
Jane is an actress, director, choreographer, and playwright who began her professional career at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico and continued her training at New York University and Paris, France. A co-founder of the Native American Theater Ensemble, she has performed in various productions by Peter Brooks, Hanay Geiogamah, Andrei Serban, John Vacarro, and Ellen Stewart. She was the female lead and choreographer for Donovan Marley's production of Black Elk Speaks for which she received the prestigious awards of Best Choreographer from the Denver Drama Critics Circle and Best Actress from First Americans in the Arts. Her film and television credits include Percy Adlon's Salmonberries, the mini-series Return to Lonesome Dove, and the TNT production of Crazy Horse. She also performed in Alaska's Perseverence Theater's productions of The Vagina Monologues and Raven's Odyssey; the Cherokee Historical Society's Unto These Hills; the Theater of Yugen's production of Crazy Horse - Moon of the Scarlet Plums; and Native Voices/ Montana Rep's production of The Frybread Queen last fall.
Shyla Marlin (Choctaw) will portray Carlisle Emmanuel Burns
Shyla couldn’t be more excited to work with Native Voices at the Autry for the first time. Theatre credits include Last Days of Judas Iscariot, UTM/Company of Angels; I Stand Before You Naked, Complex; On The Brink, 68 Cent Theatre; The Elephant and The Mayfly, Berkshire Theatre Festival; The Frontier, USC/DRC; Alphabet Play, USC/DRC; Birdbath, Annex Theatre. Film and TV credits include Whatever It Takes (Sony); Lies and Alibis (Warner Bros.); Woo (New Line); Fashion House (MY TV); Saint and Sinners (MY TV); Minding the Store (TBS); Grace (32/12 Films); Spiritual Warriors (Gilgamesh Prods.); A Starbuck’s Story (Anatomy Entertainment). Writing and producing credits include Still Standing (Theatre Asylum); A Starbuck’s Story (“Best Short” FAIF Film Festival). A graduate of the University of Southern California, she studied theatre and French.
Kimberly Norris Guerrero (Colville, Salish-Kootenai, Cherokee) will portray Annalee Walker Hayne 
Kimberly is a native Oklahoman and graduate of UCLA who has appeared on stage in Steel Magnolias, Canticle of the Plains, Three Sisters, and, most recently, in Steppenwolf's Tony and Pulitzer Prize-winning play August: Osage County which she performed in Chicago, on Broadway, at The National Theatre in London and The Sydney Theatre Company in Australia. Her film/ TV credits include Grey’s Anatomy, Taking Chances, The Sopranos, Naturally Native, Hidalgo, and Seinfeld to name a few. Additionally, she works with youth in tribal communities across North America utilizing creative expression as a tool promoting personal development. Her performance in The Frybread Queen is inspired by and dedicated to Kay Norris and Dennis Letts.
Elizabeth Frances (Cherokee) will portray Lily Savannah Santiago Burns
Elizabeth is truly excited and honored to be working with such a wonderful cast and crew on this tremendous play. Recent projects include The Lunacy Commission (Kirk Douglas Theater), A Midsummer Night's Dream (Shakespeare Santa Cruz), Julius Caesar (Shakespeare Santa Cruz), Detained in the Desert (Casa 0101), Tombs of the Vanishing Indians (reading with Native Voices at the Autry), Hamlet (Dir. Lenka Udovicki), Songs and Dances of Imaginary Lands (Dir. O-Lan Jones), Soltonoff/ Findlay Project (Center Theater Group), among others. She holds a BFA from Calarts.
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