For a brief spell this weekend, Twin Cities audiences will get a chance to see something unique. Ten playlets written, directed, designed and acted by Native American performers will go up in what organizers say is the first-ever National Native American Ten Minute Play Festival.
Produced by New Native Theatre, a seven-year-old company founded by playwright-director Rhiana Yazzie, the festival features works by playwrights from across the country and Canada. Some, like William S. Yellow Robe, Jr., are relatively well-known. Others are just finding their wings.
In all, twenty-nine artists, including actors, playwrights, directors, designers and musicians, have gathered to celebrate their works.
"What we're doing is unprecedented, both in its scope and scale," said Yazzie, who is directing several of the pieces. "We have Native artists bring all these fabulous stories to life without any filters. We're curating and doing it all for ourselves."
The playlets include “The Walking Red,” a comedy by Jenn Hall and Ajuawak Kapashesit (photo above by John Ratzloff) about the zombie apocalypse; an excerpt from Andrea Fairbanks’ dance suite “All in Fun”; and Yellow Robe’s “Making Indixns,” which sends up ideas of “the perfect Indian.”
Yazzie is directing “Walking Red,” whose co-writer, Kapashesit, is the son of activist and writer Winona LaDuke. Kapashesit also acts.
“This festival shows that there’s a vibrant Native performing arts community in the Twin Cities,” said Yazzie. “And we’re building a thriving cultural institution along the lines of Mu Performing Arts and Penumbra Theatre.”
(7:30 p.m. Thu.-Sat., 2 p.m. Sun., with a musical celebration Sat. evening. Bedlam Lowertown, 213 4th Street East, Saint Paul. $20 suggested ticket or pay-what-you-wish. 612-367-7639 or brownpapertickets.com.)