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Indigenous World Theatre Reading Series

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Nov 29, 2007
Dec 1, 2007
Segal Theater

Join us for three days to experience the work of indigenous playwrights. Theatre artists from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Samoa and the United States will present groundbreaking indigenous plays.

Co-curated and co-presented by Shawn Termin, Program Producer at The Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, New York, and Karen Oughtred, Artistic Director, Australian Aboriginal Theatre Initiative, New York.

Thursday, November 29, 2007 – United States

6:00 p.m. Opening Panel
Hanay Geiogamah (Kiowa), Susana Lei’ataua (Samoan) and Maryanne Sam (Erub) discuss Indigenous Theatre from the United States, Australia and the Torres Strait, Samoa, Canada and New Zealand.

7:15 p.m. Marcie Rendon (White Earth Anishinaabe/United States)
Introductory remarks by Hanay Geiogamah
Reading of excerpts from SongCatcher by Marcie Rendon
Moderated Q & A by Hanay Geiogamah.

Marcie Rendon (White Earth Anishinaabe) is an author, playwright, poet, and performance artist. A 1998/99 recipient of the St. Paul Company’s LIN Grant to “create a viable Native presence in the Twin Cities theatre community,” she is also a previous Playwright Center Jerome Fellow. Six of her plays were produced in the last eight years, with numerous one-acts and collaborations also staged. In August 2007, as Raving Native Productions producer, she curated Return of the Native Rave at Manna Fest (a fringe fest in Minneapolis focusing on the spiritual). Her second non-fiction children’s book, Farmer’s Market: Families Working Together was published by CarolRhoda, Inc. in 2001.

SongCatcher forwards a Native perspective on the life and work of Frances Densmore, whose early 20th century recordings of traditional and sacred songs have been part of the tug-of-war between the Smithsonian Institution and tribal members in recent years. SongCatcher delves deep into the controversies that surround anthropology and cultural appropriation.

Hanay Geiogamah (Kiowa) is a Professor of American Indian Studies and Theatre at the University of California at Los Angeles and is the founder of the American Indian Theater Ensemble. As a playwright, Geiogamah is known for his humor, realism, and idiomatic language to subvert negative stereotypes about Native Americans.

Friday, November 30, 2007 – Australia

6:00 p.m. Maryanne Sam (Erub/Australia)
Introductory remarks by Susana Lei’ataua
Reading of excerpts from Lessons in Flight by Maryanne Sam
Moderated Q & A by Susana Lei’ataua

Maryanne Sam (Erub) is a founding member of Ilbijerri Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Theatre Co-operative in 1991. Maryanne’s plays include: Oh My God I’m Black devised with Patricia Cornelius and Irini Vela (Melbourne Workers Theatre 1995), (St.Kilda Indigenous Arts Festival 2003), (Adelaide Cabaret Festival 2004), Casting Doubts (Playbox/Ilbijerri Theatre 2002), (New York,”New Indigenous Voices 2005″ ), Lessons in Flight (Ilbijerri Theatre 2003/04), (The Australian National Playwrights Conference in Newcastle, Sydney 2005.) As well as a background in theatre administration, Maryanne has performed in numerous professional theatre productions. Recipient of the ‘Uncle Bob Maza’ Award for ‘Outstanding Contribution to Victorian Theatre’ 2002 , The Centenary Medal for Services to Indigenous Arts 2004, and 2007 recipient of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Arts Board Fellowship of the Australia Council for The Arts.

Lessons In Flight is the story of two Indigenous sisters, estranged, in their thirties, close in childhood, who are brought up in a white home. Separated by a family secret many years before, they rediscover each other when one sister becomes ill. Love them or hate them, sometimes “family” teaches us the most important lessons of our lives.

Susana Lei’ataua (Samoan) is an actor and a writer. Born in Wellington, New Zealand, she is from generations of orators and story-tellers. She is part of the Lei’ataua and Taupa’u families of Manono, Samoa and her mother’s family has been in the Pacific for two hundred years. In her earlier New York days, Lei’ataua studied at the Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute. Over the years she has also been a journalist, radio newsreader, talk show host, television presenter, producer and editor. She was the communications specialist for the Royal New Zealand Ballet and recently the project leader of the Ngai Tahu Leadership Programme for the indigenous Maori iwi (tribe) Ngai Tahu. Lei’ataua was a founding actor in the devised visual theatre work Vula that performs on a stage of water, exploring the stories of Pacific women. Lei’atua is the recipient of the New Zealand Fulbright Senior Scholar Award 2008 and the NYU Asian/Pacific/ American Institute 2007-2008 Artist-In-Residence.


Photo courtesy of the Artist


Friday, November 30, 2007 – Samoa

7:30 p.m. Louise Tu’u (Saleaula-Upolu/Asau-Sava’ii/Samoa)
Introductory remarks by Susana Lei’ataua
Reading of excerpts from Le Tauvaga (The Competition) by Louise Tu’u
Moderated Q & A by Susana Lei’ataua

Louise Tu’u (Saleaula-Upolu/Asau-Sava’ii), the second daughter of Sale Tu’u (Asau, Savai’i) and Lafitaga Matua (Saleaula-i-Upolu), is an independent Samoan playwright, actress and filmmaker. She is an emerging artist in Auckland and interested in exploring new layers to the questions of identity, location and relevance that have been generated amongst New Zealand and Pacific Island communities. Her first play, Le Tauvaga (The Competition) premiered in Three Auckland community centres in March 2004, directly targeting Pacific Island teenagers and shunning the traditional installation of a theatrical performance in a theatrical setting. In 2005 Louise was selected for a Royal Court International Theatre Residency in London, where she had a play workshopped and presented in the Jerwood Theatre Upstairs. Louise is the only New Zealand or Pacific Island playwright to have ever been awarded this residency in its 19 year history.

In Le Tauvaga (The Competition) Dash, a young Samoan high-school student struggles to feel at home in both the fa’a Samoa (Samoan language and culture) and the Palagi (European) world. Intertwined with Samoan songs, Le Tauvaga explores cultural dislocation, isolation, peer pressure, domestic violence, school rivalry, betrayal, individual expression and the freedom to be oneself. It premiered at Mangere East Hall (Metro Theatre), Manukau City, New Zealand in March 2004.

Louise Tu’u

Photo courtesy of Kelly Newland

Saturday, December 1, 2007- Canada

6:00 p.m. Dawn Dumont (Cree/Canada)
Introductory remarks by Randy Reinholz
Reading of excerpts from Fancy Dancer by Dawn Dumont
Moderated Q & A by Randy Reinholz

Dawn Dumont (Cree) has written for television, radio, and the stage. Three of her plays: The Red Moon (Love Medicine) (2007), Visiting Elliot (2006), and The Trickster vs. Jesus Christ (2005) were produced by CBC Radio. In June of 2007, her play, Fancy Dancer, was workshopped at the Los Angeles theatre, Native Voices at the Autry. Dawn has also worked as a story editor for television projects and was a comedy writer for APTN’s Buffalo Tracks and Roger’s Mixed Nuts TV. Dawn has toured across the U.S. and Canada as a stand-up comedian. An award-winning screenwriter and playwright, Dawn is the recipient of the following prizes: Best Romantic Comedy, LIFT Screenplay Series, 2005; Screenplay Audience Award, Female Eye Film Festival, 2005; and was the 2004 Playwrightin- Residence at Native Earth Performing Arts in Toronto. Dawn was born and raised on the Okanese First Nation and is of Cree and Metis descent.

In Fancy Dancer over 500 Aboriginal women have disappeared in Canada within the last 15 years. In this dark comedy, the Trickster strives to bring this issue to the forefront using the medium of television. As the Trickster works his magic, a Native American journalist searches for a missing Fancy-Dancer, April Fineday. As the journalist digs deeper into the story, she finds herself stepping outside of the safe boundaries of mainstream society into the dark dangers of April’s world.

Randy Reinholz (Choctaw) is co-creator and artistic director of Native Voices. Reinholz has co-sponsored showcases and Native American diversity workshops for ABC and NBC and is an annual guest artist for the FOX American Indian Summer Institute. He received his MFA from Cornell University (SDSU ) and is a tenured professor of Theatre, Television, and Film at San Diego State University in addition to being on faculty in the Program of American Indian Studies. He was named Interim Director of the School of Theatre, Television, and Film at SDSU in August 2007. He has directed close to fifty plays across the US and Canada.

Saturday, December 1, 2007 – New Zealand

7:30 p.m. Albert Alexander Amahou Belz (Ngati Porou, Nga Puhi, Ngati Pokai/New Zealand)
Introductory remarks by Randy Reinholz
Reading of excerpts from Awhi Tapu by Albert Belz
Moderated Q & A by Randy Reinholz

Awhi Tapu, a desolate forestry village, lies at the foot of the Urewera range. With the forestry industry closed down, most have left. Wendyl, Casper, Sonny and Girl Girl only have each other and their fertile imaginations to rely on. Awhi Tapu is a story of loss, belonging, but most of all, friendship.

Albert Alexander Amahou Belz (Ngati Porou, Nga Puhi, Ngati Pokai) born 1973, has been a professional writer for television, film and theatre since 2001. Te Maunga was his first script for theatre performed in 2001 to much critical acclaim. Awhi Tapu followed in 2003, produced by New Zealand’s leading Maori theatre company, Taki Rua. Awhi Tapu toured New Zealand and was also nominated for Best New, New Zealand play at New Zealand’s premiere theatre awards The Chapmann Tripps. Since then Awhi Tapu has been published by Playpress. His most recent theatre achievements include winning the Best New, New Zealand Play Award for Yours Truly at the 2006 Chapmann Tripp awards and also the Bruce Mason Award, as New Zealand’s Best New, New Zealand Playwright. Belz is currently juggling three theatre commissions, for three very different plays, along with various freelance writing for Maori Television and Televsion New Zealand.

Albert Belz
(Ngati Porou, Nga Puhi,Ngati Pokai)
New Zealand

Photo by Robert Jones

Indigenous World Theatre – Screenings

Afternoon Screenings
Saturday, December 1, 2007 3:00 p.m. – 5 p.m.

Join us for a rare screening of films and videos celebrating the work of aboriginal theatre artists. Curated by Elizabeth Weatherford, Director of Film and Video and Margaret Sagan, Program Coordinator, at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, George Gustav Heye Center.

Apples and Indians (2006, 5 min.) Canada
Director: Lorne Olson (Ojibwe). First Stories: Manitoba
Produced by: the National Film Board of Canada

Gesture Down (I Don’t Sing) (2006, 10 min.) United States
Director: Cedar Sherbert (Kumeyaay)

Sun, Moon & Feather (1989, 26 min.) United States
Directors: Bob Rosen and Jane Zipp

Vis à Vis: Native Tongues (2003, 58 min.) United States
Director: Steve Lawrence and Phil Lucas (Choctaw), with Nick Torrens, Australia.
Produced in ass. with Native American Public Telecommunications

Daughters of the Pacific (2007, Short Film)
Starring Louise Tu’u (Saleaula-Upolu/Asau-Sava’ii)/Samoa

The New York based Australian Aboriginal Theatre Initiative (AATI), founded in 2003 by Artistic Director Karen Oughtred, presents new plays to an American audience by established and emerging indigenous playwrights.

The National Museum of the American Indian shall recognize and affirm to Native communities and the non-Native public the historical and contemporary culture and cultural achievements of the Natives of the Western Hemisphere by advancing—in consultation, collaboration, and cooperation with Natives—knowledge and understanding of Native cultures, including art, history, and language, and by recognizing the museum’s special responsibility, through innovative public programming, research, and collections, to protect, support, and enhance the development, maintenance, and perpetuation of Native culture and community. indigenous world theatre – Screenings