About Native Voices
Native Voices at the Autry
Native Voices at the Autry is devoted to developing and producing new works for the stage by Native American, Alaska Native, and First Nations playwrights.
Native Voices at the Autry is the country’s only Equity theatre company dedicated exclusively to producing new works by Native American, Alaska Native, and First Nations playwrights. The company has been hailed by critics as “a virtual Who’s Who of American Indian theatre artists,” “a hotbed for contemporary Native theatre,” “deeply compelling,” and “a powerful and eloquent voice.”
Native Voices, which provides a supportive, collaborative setting for Native theatre artists from across North America, was founded in 1993 and became the resident theatre company at the Autry National Center in 1999. It is widely respected in both the Native American and theatre communities for its breakthrough plays and diverse programming, which highlight unique points of view within the more than 500 Native American nations in North America.
Deeply committed to developing new works by beginning, emerging, and established Native playwrights from across North America and seeing them fully realized, Native Voices at the Autry has produced 22 critically acclaimed new plays, including 15 world premieres; 10 Playwrights Retreats; 18 New Play Festivals; and more than 150 workshops and public staged readings.
Native Voices is led by Founder/Producing Artistic Director Randy Reinholz (Choctaw) and Founder/Producing Executive Director Jean Bruce Scott. The company maintains successful long-term relationships with New York’s Public Theater, Native American Public Telecommunications (NAPT), Washington’s Kennedy Center, the National Museum of the American Indian, the Alaska Native Heritage Center, Montana Rep, and La Jolla Playhouse.
Native Voices at the Autry is a Constituent Theatre of Theatre Communications Group (TCG), the national organization for the American theatre, and is a member of Actors’ Equity Association, LA Stage Alliance, and the Dramatists Guild.
Native Voices has produced plays by a diverse group of Native writers, covering an array of subjects from satiric comedies to urban dramas and even radio plays. Please click on Past Productions for a full list of previous shows.
Annual Playwrights Retreat and Festival of New Plays
The retreat and festival provide emerging and established Native American authors a rigorous opportunity to shape their plays over the course of an entire week. Collaboration occurs in daily workshops with nationally recognized directors, dramaturgs, and an acting company largely composed of exceptional Native American actors. The week culminates with a festival of staged readings. Many works developed through this process have gone on to enjoy successful runs on the Autry’s main stage and elsewhere.
Selected playwrights receive an honorarium, roundtrip airfare to California, and lodging. Past retreats have been held at the Autry National Center, Occidental College, and UCLA, all in Los Angeles; as well as in San Diego County at San Diego State University and La Jolla Playhouse.
Annual Short Play Festival and the Award for Excellence in Playwriting
Occurring annually in November during the Autry National Center’s American Indian Arts Marketplace, the Short Play Festival presents professional staged readings of ten- to thirty-minute plays centered around a particular theme. Plays selected for the festival are considered for the Von Marie Atchley Excellence in Playwriting Award, a $1,000 cash prize based on the creative use of the competition theme, originality, theatricality, execution, and audience response.
First Look Series
The First Look Series is a script development process that brings playwrights together with professional directors, dramaturgs, and actors. Each spring and fall, plays are workshopped and prepared for a public staged reading and discussion, giving the playwright an opportunity to hear the play—often for the first time—with a live audience. Plays can be new works, works-in-progress, or material that has already been produced at another venue.
Native American, Alaska Native, and First Nations playwrights are invited to submit their plays for the Native Voices Annual Playwrights Retreat, Festival of New Plays, Festival of Short Plays, First Look Series, and Equity productions. We encourage beginning, emerging, and established Native playwrights to submit. Submissions are accepted on an ongoing basis; however, there are specific deadlines for particular development opportunities in an upcoming season. For information on how to submit and current deadlines, please visit our Call for Scripts.
Submissions are evaluated annually by our National Reading Panel, which is composed of nationally recognized theatre artists, directors, dramaturgs, and decision makers from professional theatre companies and universities across the United States—as well as by the Native Voices artistic and executive directors.
Young Native Voices Theatre Education Project
From 2002 to 2008, the Young Native Voices Theatre Education Project provided workshops and residencies for Native American youths at the Southern California Indian Center and the American Indian Clubhouse. Playwrights were paired with professional mentors for an intensive playwriting or theatre workshop, culminating in public staged readings of their plays. Forty-five new plays were written as part of the project.
In 2005, Young Native Voices expanded to include reservation outreach. That year, Native Voices theatre artists and mentors were in residence at the Coeur d’Alene Schitsu’umsh Reservation in Idaho, working with students to create and perform ten 10-minute plays at six different venues, including the University of Idaho, the Coeur d’Alene Reservation, North Idaho College, and the Museum of Arts and Culture. In 2006, they were in residence for a month at the Sycuan Reservation in San Diego County, where they worked with thirty-seven students from the Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation. Students participated in daily theatre workshops and created a full production of three traditional Kumeyaay stories featuring Kumeyaay language, song, and dance.
Please check back here for updates on the status of Young Native Voices.
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