The Heritage Center Hosts the Playwrights Project

posted on May 16, 2013
by Jessica Hallstrom

“Mars Bars,” “The Dirty Secret No One Knows about Mr. Black,” and “Love Goes Wrong.” 

Those are just a few of the titles of drama-driven short plays Red Cloud students wrote and produced this month as part of the Pine Ridge Playwrights Project.

Hosted by The Heritage Center at Red Cloud Indian School in partnership with the Alaska Native Heritage Center, the Pine Ridge Playwrights Project offered Red Cloud students a unique opportunity to learn to tell their stories and the stories of their people through the power of live theatre.  Students participated in an intensive writing seminar in the fall of last year taught by nationally recognized Native playwrights Larissa FastHorse (Rosebud Sicangu) and Darrell Dennis (Shuswap).  This spring, FastHorse and Dennis returned to Red Cloud’s campus to mentor each playwright through the process of polishing and producing a 10-minute play.

“After the writing workshop, Larissa and Darrell raved about the exciting raw talent they found here and about the important stories each of their students had to tell,” said Ed Bourgeois, Project Director at the Alaska Native Heritage Center.  “They are busy professional playwrights, whose works are produced around the country, but they love coming home to Indian Country to give back what they’ve learned about how to succeed in the theatre world.”

After an intensive week of writing and producing their plays, Red Cloud students participated in a series of public readings—hosted on Red Cloud’s campus as well as at The Dahl Center in Rapid City.

The Pine Ridge Playwrights Project is modeled on the success of the Alaska Native Playwrights Project (ANPP), now in its third year. Since its inception in 2010, ANPP has trained 32 new Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian and Mohawk writers. Participants have completed 30 new plays, several of which have since been read and produced by such companies as Perseverance Theatre (AK), Native Voices at the Autry (Los Angeles) and LaJolla Playhouse (San Diego). 

And while the Pine Ridge Playwrights Project has wrapped on campus, it is not yet over for Red Cloud student Odessa Starr, who has been selected to travel to Los Angeles to attend a convening of the Alaska Native Playwrights Project cohort.  Held in conjunction with the 15th Annual Festival of New Plays, she will have the opportunity to join in writing workshops and attend readings of three new Native plays at Native Voices at the Autry.  Stay tuned for more!


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