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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Thoughts from the Writer/Director - Boarding School Stories

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I knew nothing about the Indian Boarding Schools just over a year ago. Jean Bruce Scott says to me, we’re going to write a play about them. And so the research and the writing of the play begin simultaneously. For that first stage reading at the First Look Festival in September of 2014 we wound up with a collection of scenes that we tried to arrange, so that they would suggest the idea of a play. There was no denying that scenes were powerful and that the content was heavy, but a play we did not have. The biggest things we learned from all the research we had done was how vast and complex a topic it was and how much more we did not know. And so more research.

Well, to be precise, we let the play sit for awhile until April 2015 when Jean Bruce Scott says to me, we’re going to put this play up in the Hollywood Fringe Fest in June. And so we went to work. More research and adding what we call a “framework” to hang the scenes on. And this time I’m tasked to direct. Our show ran with a rotating cast, adding music, dance, lights, and sound, and a few less scenes, but this time with a framework that tied the scenes, the stories together.
After the run it was decided the play had potential as an touring, educational play for high schools. And so, Jean Bruce Scott says to me, can we cut this down to 45 minutes and cut from 7 characters? And, by the way, our play was heavy. The topic can be downright depressing, and while we added as much humor as we could for our June run, we would need more for performances at high schools. And, we needed a more comprehensive play that would require more research.
This past month we’ve performed the play twice, once at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and once at UC San Diego. Our framework is now a cohesive story. We cut a lot of scenes that we loved but didn’t quite fit into the educational story we needed to tell. We added a couple of new scenes in an attempt to give a more comprehensive overview of Indian Boarding Schools. The play runs under 40 minutes and has a cast (a very brave cast!) of 4. The play was well received by both audiences, one large, one small.
After seeing the play I see opportunities for more humor, a tightening here and there. By no means does our play tell the entire story of the Indian Boarding Schools. The topic, as I said, is incredibly vast and complex. But hopefully this play can inspire you to do a little research of your own.
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