June 14, 2011

Alaska Native playwrights at the Autry

An OB Nurse Becomes a Playwright

By Holly StantonIn my professional life, I am an OB nurse. However, I have always felt the pull and magic of writing and creating. When I saw an advertisement for the Alaska Native Playwrights Project, I entered, and before I knew it, I was transported to the privileged realm of “real” writers for a week-long playwriting workshop, in Anchorage, Alaska. I was paired with Comanche playwright Terry Gomez as my mentor, and over the course of ten months, I wrote Cikiuteklluku (which translates in Yupik to “Giving Something Away”) with her guidance.

After a public reading at Cyrano’s Playhouse in Anchorage in November 2010, I submitted my play to Native Voices at the Autry. I was so pleased to learn that I was accepted and would be furthering my creative journey by attending the 2011 Playwrights Retreat and Festival of New Plays.

Which Play to Write?  She Listens to Her Native Voice

By Susie SilookBecause the Native Voices of the Autry selected my first play for development, I faced the dilemma of choosing one play over the other. The first play probably is better, theatrically, and has a better chance of production. But the second play has the real sense of healing, which I want to share. So many women sit alone on their islands with these traumas circulating in their brains, without access to therapy, along with many women in prison, or out on the streets, alcoholic, like I was.

Yupik rules dictate I follow what is better for the tribe, not my ego. After a battle waged within, the Yupik in me won, and I chose the second dramatic memoir. After all, this is Native Voices, I decided, and in Alaska, our tribes are very strong, our ties to our ancestral lands largely unbroken.

I am faced with the very real possibility that this will not be accepted as beneficial to the tribe, since I break the silences around certain issues. I accept that; certain things must end.

Comment:  For more on Native Voices at the Autry, see The Frybread Queen Reviewed and Tales of an Urban Indian Reviewed.

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