November 08, 2013

Natives protest Crazy Horse play

'Crazy Horse and Custer' Play Opens Saturday Amidst Protests

By Christina RoseThe theatrical production of “Crazy Horse and Custer” opens Saturday in Sacramento, California, and will be accompanied by drumming, protests and prayers. The Sacramento Theatre Company has received emails and calls from innumerable sources criticizing the play. The theatre says the play has been modified and many of the issues have been addressed.

The new version of the play was reviewed and while there have been changes, some of the original problems still exist.
To be specific:The script changes that have been made do not change the main fact of the play: Crazy Horse is still dead and the scaffold is still on the stage. First and foremost, Crazy Horse’s family insisted that Crazy Horse cannot be a spirit, and while he no longer comes down from the scaffold, he still admits on stage that he is dead. Because of this, the family said there could have been no further dialogue.

ICTNM’s previous reporting of this story raised the ire of activists and provoked strong emotions in Terry Marie Varela, a Sacramento resident and enrolled Oglala Lakota, who is a member of the San Francisco Idle No More. She has set up a Facebook page for the protest called Raising Our Voices Against Native Exploitation.

Varela was most offended by Crazy Horse’s repeated reference to Lakota ways as superstitions.

The new version of the script no longer references Lakota ways as superstitions, but it still speaks condescendingly of the Lakota people. By saying things like, “We fought foolishly as always.” Crazy Horse and the Lakota are referred to as “savages” by Custer, which surely reflects Custer’s language. However, there is little balance in historical facts from a Lakota perspective and the misrepresentation of spirituality is rife even throughout the new script.

Tom Gillies, a Sacramento man, attended a preview of the show and said, “The author was lazy.”

At the end of the play, Crazy Horse calls Custer, “A compelling man,” giving him more respect than he has shown his own people throughout the show.

“The whole play was bookended by a bad feeling at the beginning and at the end,” Gillies said. “I went in there with a neutral view, and I wanted to be convinced it wasn’t a piece of crap, and it was.”

In Which I Go See "Crazy Horse And Custer" So You Don't Have To--a play review (-- for Crazy Horse --)

By Cutcha Risling BaldyI thought I could actually be surprised about this play because I--am an optimist. People surprise me all the time. But, as my disclaimer comes to a close I will end with this--

I went to see the play “Crazy Horse and Custer” at the Sacramento Theatre Company on November 6, 2013. The play was still in preview. I bought my own ticket. I had an open mind. The theatre people were nice enough to hold the start of the show to wait for us as we came running through the doors. I sat next to my good friends in an uncomfortable seat and the theater was intimate, the space was interesting, the mood was excited. The lights dimmed, the music started, I sat through two full hours… and in the end I must say, in all honesty, I left--offended.
To be specific:Custer wasn't my problem in this play. Crazy Horse wasn't the problem in this play. The writing was a problem. Having Crazy Horse call Custer a “compelling man” (UGH) and not a “psychotic, homicidal, genocide inflicting war criminal" who, would he have survived to become President (because, yeah, yeah, Custer, you would have been President, blah, blah, blah) would have continued his reign of terror against Native people, just because--he’s an asshole, that’s a problem.

And an even more significant problem is that we go through two acts of this play and there is very little, if any (I can’t think of any) mention of the genocide of Native peoples. We hear from the beginning about the mutilation of white soldiers at Little Big Horn by Lakota people, but nothing about the murdering, raping, torturing, starving, war against Indian peoples.
And:I suppose the one thing I can’t get out of my head, that thing I woke up the next day repeating was the last line of the play. At the very end of the play Crazy Horse is left on stage alone and he pulls back a curtain to reveal the Pine Ridge Reservation, supposedly, maybe, the “modern” Pine Ridge--a trash filled, barren, wasteland. Crazy Horse cries. He says “The Lakota have nothing.” He calls this place the “pitiful remnants” with pennilessness, depression, and “despair of an empty life.”

And he says “The Lakota are finally defeated.”

Before he turns his back on us and mutters. “It is better to be dead.”

It is better to be dead.

Did this play, did this author, did Crazy Horse just tell me, a living, breathing, singing, dancing, loving, laughing, joking, mothering Native woman that it is better to be dead than the Native person that I am? Did Crazy Horse just tell me, he would rather be dead, than to be a part of the living, breathing, singing, dancing, loving, laughing, joking, mothering, fathering, grandparenting, Lakota people?
Comment:  Writer Christina Rose consulted with me before finishing her article. I suggested contacting Cutcha Risling Baldy.

Below:  The playwright's note.

1 comment:

Rob said...

For more on the subject, see:

Native American's demand an end to local play

A small group of protesters is keeping a lonely vigil outside the Sacramento Theater Company, asking that the play "Crazy Horse and Custer" be stopped.

"The family of Crazy Horse has requested that this play not continue, and the writer has continued to not listen to them," said Cindy LaMarr, with Capitol Area Indian Resources.