July 06, 2007

What's an Indian Woman to Do?

One woman's tribal tribulationsSocial consciousness suffuses "What's an Indian Woman to Do?" at the Los Angeles Theatre Center. Mark Anthony Rolo's solo play about the rift between heritage and modernity requires that a Native American actress play its multiple roles, which DeLanna Studi, a star of Cherokee origin, does with resolute skill.

Focusing on Belle, born to an Ojibwe father and a white mother, Rolo's cunningly crafted monologue begins with a Halloween memory. Adolescent Belle plans to trick-or-treat as Disney's Pocahontas, only to discover that blond, blue-eyed Katrina, her "best friend," has deliberately appropriated Belle's costume.

Katrina's encroachment on Belle's territory underpins the scenario, as she smilingly steals Belle's high school sweetheart, then embraces Ojibwe culture to bed Ojibwe men. Years later, Katrina and her Ojibwe boyfriend Moose enter the cafe where Belle works. A plan for revenge unfolds.

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