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Short play pulled, then reinstated in History Theatre's '1968' production

Posted by: Graydon Royce under Theater, Behind the scenes, Minnesota authors Updated: January 16, 2012 - 3:31 PM

 

Cast members of History Theatre's "1968."

Just to be clear.

Rhiana Yazzie’s play, "The Corral," will indeed be part of the History Theatre’s production, "1968: The Year that Rocked the World," which opens Saturday at the Minnesota History Center.

A conflict last week between Yazzie and Clyde Bellecourt of the American Indian Movement had caused artistic director Ron Peluso to pull the short play temporarily. After all the parties met for several hours on Saturday afternoon, the decision was made to reinstate Yazzie’s work. However, the incident was still being talked about Monday, with many people assuming the play had been eliminated.

Part of the problem was that a Sunday Star Tribune story on the production did not mention Yazzie’s play because in the crucial hours during which the Sunday Variety advance section is printed, the History Theatre had decided to pull that short play out of the production. The absence of any mention of Yazzie’s play in that article brought a caustic note from one reader who accused the Star Tribune of stifling American Indian voices.

Yazzie, who on Thursday night was resigned to writing a substitute play about a playwright who experiences censorship in her own community, put out a plea later that night asking members of the film and theater communities to produce the play themselves and put it on You Tube. She included a copy of the script, which depicts two American Indians handcuffed by police to a lamp post on a cold December night in Minneapolis.

Meantime, Peluso said he received a call from Bellecourt, who originally had objected to several points in the script and had threatened AIM protests if the play was staged. Peluso said that in a Friday afternoon phone call, Bellecourt was hoping to seek a resolution to the issue. The parties met for several hours on Saturday afternoon, and a reconciliation paved the way for the play to be returned to the "1968" project.

For the Sunday advance story, I had asked the writers to talk about their plays. Here is the description from Yazzie, which was edited from that article when it appeared the play was going to be pulled:

Rhiana Yazzie wrote about the beginnings of the American Indian Movement:

"For Indians, Minneapolis was our Birmingham, but this story never gets out; there’s no wonder AIM began in this city. I spoke with founding members of AIM who were at the first official meeting in July 1969. I heard story after story of people being rounded up regardless of a crime, beaten before being thrown into paddy wagons, taken to the Mississippi and thrown in even in the coldest winter months and often left for dead, women raped; one in four Indian children were removed from their homes and placed into white families. AIM focused on these things immediately, taking steps to change Indian Child Welfare Laws."

 

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