February 18, 2011

Frybread Queen at the Autry

Native Voices At The Autry Presents THE FRYBREAD QUEENNative Voices at the Autry continues its vital role as the country's only equity theatre company dedicated exclusively to developing work of Native American Playwrights with the world premiere main stage Equity production of The Frybread Queen, which runs from Saturday, March 12 through Sunday, March 27, 2011 (previews begin March 9), at the Wells Fargo Theater at The Autry National Center, Los Angeles. Written by esteemed playwright Carolyn Dunn (Muskogee Creek, Cherokee*) The Frybread Queen is a quietly poetic drama with all the haunting qualities of a Chekhovian tragicomedy--Navajo-style. Native Voices' deep commitment to nurturing new works and seeing them fully realized is illustrated by this production, which is the culmination of the play's pivotal three-and-a-half-year development process shepherded by Native Voices. Robert Caisley, who served as dramaturge during the play's development, directs, and the four-member cast features Jane Lind (Aleut*) as Jessie Burns, Kimberly Norris Guerrero (Colville, Salish-Kootenai, Cherokee*) as AnnaLee Walker Hayne, Shyla Marlin (Choctaw*) as Carlisle Emmanuel Burns, and Elizabeth Frances (Cherokee*) as Lily Savannah Santiago Burns.

The Frybread Queen portrays three generations of strong, opinionated, passionate Native women bound by marriage and family ties who come together for the funeral of a beloved son, and in their grief confront long-simmering tensions and family secrets that threaten to tear them apart. The play addresses many of the challenges facing Native people across the country today, from the erosion of traditional values to the loss of family and tribe and ownership of belonging, elements that factor into the relationships of the women as they struggle to deal with their troubled situation. Each character has her own unique recipe for frybread, a Native American staple, all reflecting their individual attempts to assert some kind of "authority" over the past and to take some kind of control over the future. In competing, both literally and metaphorically, to be the real "frybread queen" in the play, they illustrate the friction between traditional Native ways and contemporary assimilation, from the grandmother's traditional use of lard to her daughter-in-law's "new-fangled" use of self-rising flour.
Comment:  For more on the subject, see Frybread Queen Explores Tribal Connections and Developing The Frybread Queen.

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