February 04, 2010

Alaska Native Playwrights Project

Native playwrights prepare to tell their own stories

By Maia Nolan"It was really hard to choose one (story)," said Kavelina Torres, one of the newly-minted playwrights, during a lunch break. Torres sat at a table in the Heritage Center's theater, checking her Facebook account, while her tablemate, Maureen Mayo, flipped through a notebook. Both women are from the Fairbanks area--although Torres is quick to specify that she actually lives in nearby North Pole.

A college student and mother of four, Torres applied for the project because she wants to see Alaska Natives better represented in entertainment, and because she worries about Native languages disappearing. Torres, who is Yup'ik, Inupiaq and Athabascan, began studying Yup'ik at the University of Alaska Fairbanks after she realized she was missing out on an important part of her heritage.
And:When she was growing up, Torres said, the people on TV didn't look like the people she knew.

"How come there's no brown people?" she remembered thinking. "How come there's no tan people? How come they all have perfect teeth?" She said she dreams of turning on her television and seeing real stories about Alaska Natives and "the drama of real people"--not documentary footage of smiling "happy savages."
Comment:  For more on the subject, see Native Plays and Other Stage Shows.

Below:  Not a typical Alaska Native.

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