'Stories From the Drum,' performed at the Guthrie Theater in 2019. Photo by Jessica Kray Martin.

The Guthrie Theater has won a pair of grants to dig into its work with Native American artists.

The Minneapolis theater will use a $50,000 grant from the Joyce Foundation to create a new theater project that "centers the stories and experiences" of the Dakota and Ojibwe people.

The Guthrie will commission the piece from Indigenous Direction and its cofounders Ty Defoe and Larissa FastHorse, a consulting company they've worked with before. In 2019, they created "Stories From the Drum," a performance formed through workshops with an all-Native, Twin Cities cast. 

Before that, they put on "Water is Sacred," which blended dance and music, text and ceremony.

"Creating awareness of those who are underserved and underrepresented is critical," said James Haskins, the Guthrie's managing director. "And for those of us who are in the business of storytelling, we need to be sure that we're telling those stories."

The Guthrie also won a $75,000 grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board to continue its work with the Native community. That funding will help the theater offer free acting and playwriting classes and three paid fellowships in directing, stage management and theater management.

"A lot of times people tend to just look at the stage and think of actors and writers," FastHorse said. "There are so many incredible jobs in theater – stable, benefits-paying jobs.

"We always try to help theaters also think about that: How do you engage indigenous communities in many different ways, not just as a performer or writer?"

The state grant will also help Indigenous Direction hold two free workshops for arts and culture leaders "looking to decolonize and Indigenize their spaces and processes," according to a Guthrie spokeswoman.

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