Thursday, July 1, 2010

Frybread in Montana, Hollywood Indians

Had a great script meeting this morning for the Montana Rep workshop production of The Frybread Queen. Director Jere Hodgin is busy with casting and that looks like it is moving along with some wonderful Montana- based actresses cast as Jessie, Carlisle, and Lily. Returning as Annalee for the Montana production is the Kickapoo Creek Diva herself, and one of my muses, Miss Arigon Starr. So thrilled to work with the Diva any chance I get, since she was one of the folks I had in mind while writing the character of Annalee. Native Voices Executive Director Jean Bruce Scott informed me that in addition to the Montana Rep production this fall The Frybread Queen will be part of the First Look Series Nov. 4-6th at the Autry in preparation for the world premier at the Autry's main stage March 2011. In the meantime, I am working on revisions for Frybread and completing the first draft of my new play, The Bone Picker. More details soon...

This past Sunday I had the opportunity to watch a great panel discussion on native peoples and media representations co-sponsored by the Screen Actors Guild Diversity Committee and the American Indian Writers committee of Writers Guild of America. Panelists included TV and film writers, playwrights, director, and actors who have been working here for a long time and dealing with a lot of the misconceptions and stereotypes. It was interesting to note that the screenwriters, Micah Wright and Jason Gavin, note that native artists need to come up through outside channels that seem inside, specifically noting that most of the actors of color who are now appearing on network television came up through out of mainstream shows such as Oz and The Wire. Developing a pool of recognizable Indian actors would help. Of course, to the Indian community, the list of recognizable Indian actors is long; seems like to the majority of Americans that list is virtually non-existent, as much of Native America is to the rest of the world. With Eclipse, will that change? We'll see...

In terms of theater for native peoples, there seems to be more opportunity. Playwrights Larissa Fast Horse and Dawn Jamieson are encouraged by opportunities for native playwrights and expansion of older theater groups such as Native Voices at the Autry and the Public Theater in New York. The encouraging news to me was that my friend Fast Horse makes her living as a playwright, and she is encouraged by collaborations between theaters that are not traditionally "Indian" venues, such as the Autry's co-production of the Frybread Queen with Montana rep. Thanks for the shout-out, Fast Horse!

Director Chris Eyre also talked about multiple opportunities for native folks in film and tv, and actors Kalani Queypo and Delanna Studi talked about Delanna's most recent role in the national touring production of August: Osage County and Kalani's new role in the sci-fi web series 10,000 Days. Delanna talked about being the only Indian in the cast and how she worked with cast mates on recognizing stereotypes. Kalani's observation that his character in 10,000 Days happens to be native but is part of a group that includes many different ethnicities but the character is not "stereotypically native" is really exciting.

So there it is. We'll see what direction we go in from here!

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