Native Voices at the Autry — America”™s leading Native American theatre company.

Native Voices at the Autry — America”™s leading Native American theatre company.

¡Vivan Los Muertos!  Photo from recent celebrations of Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead). La Bailarina by Luis Villanueva. (Image courtesy of Lore Productions.)


Native Voices at the Autry continues its vital role as the country”™s only equity theatre company dedicated exclusively to developing the work of Native American playwrights with two readings of esteemed playwright Carolyn Dunn”™s (Muskogee Creek, Cherokee*) The Frybread Queen, a haunting and poetic play described as “one of the most celebrated new Native American theatre pieces in the country,” on Thursday, November 4, 7:00 p.m., and Sunday, November 7, 2010, 2:00 p.m., at the Wells Fargo Theater at The Autry National Center in Griffith Park.

Directed by Jere Hodgin with dramaturgy by Robert Caisley, the readings provide an important next step in the play”™s development and are part of Native Voices’ signature FIRST LOOK SERIES: Plays in Progress, which brings playwrights together with professional directors, dramaturgs, and actors for a workshop and public presentation at the Autry.  The readings, staged in conjunction with the popular annual American Indian Arts Marketplace at the Autry, are followed by a chat with Dunn, Hodgin, Caisley and the actors.

Illustrating Native Voices”™ deep commitment to nurturing new works and seeing them fully realized, this spring Native Voices presents a fully staged mainstage Equity production of The Frybread Queen, the culmination of the play”™s pivotal, three-and-a-half-year development process shepherded by the company that has included long-term dramaturgical support, extensive workshop opportunities and invaluable collaboration with a team of theatre professionals.  Earlier this fall Native Voices at the Autry co-produced a developmental production of it with Montana Rep and The University of Montana School of Theatre and Dance.

In The Frybread Queen, three generations of Native women bound by marriage and family ties come together for the funeral of a beloved son, and in their grief confront long-simmering tensions and family secrets that threaten to tear them apart.

Says Hodgin, who not only directs the reading but also directed the Montana Rep developmental production and was on the national reading panel that initially selected the play for Native Voices 2007 Playwrights Retreat, “It was ultimately the plot that intrigued me so much, because aside from a wonderful play featuring four Native women facing family and generational issues, it”™s also simply good mystery and storytelling.  A lot of what”™s being addressed in this play at a deeper level are the same things facing Native people all over the country today – the erosion of traditional values, the loss of family and tribe and ownership of belonging.  All of those things end up factoring into these relationships as the women struggle to deal with the situation.”

Playwright Carolyn Dunn (Muskogee Creek, Cherokee*) received a BA in Speech Communication from Humboldt State University, an MA in American Indian Studies from UCLA, and a PhD in American Studies and Ethnicity from USC.  She is a wife, mother, daughter, journalist, teacher, poet, playwright, fiction writer, born in Southern California, whose ethnic heritage also includes Seminole, French Creole and Cajun.  Her work has appeared widely, including the anthologies Green Man: Tales from the Mythic Forest (2004), The Coyote Road (2007), Reinventing the Enemy’s Language (1997) and Kenneth Lincoln’s Sing With the Heart of A Bear: Fusions of Native and American Poetry. The author of many articles that have appeared in journals in the US, Canada and Germany, she is the co-editor (with Carol Comfort) of Through the Eye of the Deer (1999) and Hozho: Walking in Beauty (with Paula Gunn Allen) and the author of a volume of poetry, Outfoxing Coyote (2001, and is the co-author (with Ari Berk) of the children’s book Coyote Speaks.  Currently, she is Visiting Lecturer at San Francisco State in American Indian Studies, where she teaches American Indian Oral Literatures and recently was appointed Managing Director of the American Indian Resource Center and the Cultural Resource Centers at the University of California, Santa Cruz.  A founding member of the Mankillers, an all-woman northern style drum group, she lives in Northern California with her husband and children.

Autry National Center

Native Voices at the Autry is the country’s only Equity theatre company dedicated exclusively to producing new works by Native American playwrights.  The company has been hailed by critics as “a virtual who’s who of American Indian theatre artists,” “a hot bed for contemporary Native theatre,” “deeply compelling” and “a powerful and eloquent voice.”  Native Voices, which provides a supportive, collaborative setting for Native theatre artists from across North America, was established as a resident company at The Autry National Center in 1999.  It is widely respected in both the Native American and theatre communities for its breakthrough plays and diverse programming showcasing unique points of view within the more than 500 Native American nations in North America.  Deeply committed to developing new works by beginning, emerging and established Native playwrights from across North America and seeing them fully realized, Native Voices has presented fully staged productions of 18 critically acclaimed new plays, including 12 world premieres, 7 Playwrights Retreats and 13 New Play Festivals, and more than 100 workshops and public staged readings of new plays.  Native Voices is led by Founder/Producing Artistic Director Randy Reinholz (Choctaw*) and Founder/Producing Executive Director Jean Bruce Scott and maintains successful long-term relationships with New York’s The Public Theater, Native American Public Telecommunications (NAPT), Washington’s Kennedy Center, The National Museum of the American Indian and La Jolla Playhouse.

The Autry National Center, formed in 2003 by the merger of the Autry Museum of Western Heritage with the Southwest Museum of the American Indian and the Women of the West Museum, is an intercultural history center dedicated to exploring and sharing the stories, experiences, and perceptions of the diverse peoples of the American West.  Located in Griffith Park, the Autry”™s collection of over 500,000 pieces of art and artifacts, which includes the collection of the Southwest Museum of the American Indian, is one of the largest and most significant in the United States.  The Autry Institute includes two research libraries: the Braun Research Library and the Autry Library. Exhibitions, public programs, K-12 educational services, and publications are designed to examine critical issues of society, offering insights into solutions and the contemporary human condition through the Western historical experience.

Suggested donation if tickets are reserved in advance is $10; Autry Members are free.  If purchased at the door on Sunday, November 7, during the Autry”™s annual American Indian Arts Marketplace, admission is $12 and includes the reading, all Marketplace activities and Museum admission.

NATIVE VOICES AT THE AUTRY is located at The Autry National Center, 4700 Western Heritage Way, Los Angeles, CA, 90027-1462.

To purchase tickets, please call (323) 667-2000, extension 354, or visit their website.

Native Voices at the Autry, America”™s leading Native American theatre company.

WHAT: First Look Series: Plays in Progress

Reading of The Frybread Queen by Carolyn Dunn (Muskogee Creek, Cherokee*)

Jere Hodgin, director

Robert Caisley, dramaturg

Executive Producers Randy Reinholz (Choctaw*) and Jean Bruce Scott


Thursday, November 4, 2010, 7 PM

Sunday, November 7, 2010, 2 PM


Wells Fargo Theater

The Autry National Center

4700 Western Heritage Way

Los Angeles, CA 90027-1462


$10 suggested donation if tickets reserved in advance, Autry Members Free;

If purchased at the door on Sunday, November 7, during the Autry”™s annual American Indian Arts Marketplace, admission is $12 and includes the reading, all Marketplace activities and Museum admission.


(323) 667-2000 ext. 354

*refers to the artists”™ tribal affiliation

Report by Pauline Adamek

Pauline Adamek

Pauline Adamek is a Los Angeles-based arts enthusiast with twenty-five years' experience covering International Film Festivals and reviewing new Theatre, Film and Restaurants.


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