Native Voices at the Autry is devoted to developing and producing new works for the stage by Native American, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, and First Nations playwrights.
Native Voices at the Autry is the country’s only Equity theatre company devoted exclusively to developing and producing new works for the stage by Native American, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, 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 provides a supportive, collaborative setting for Native theatre artists from across North America and is committed to putting Native narratives at the center of the American story in order to facilitate a more inclusive dialogue on what it means to be American
Founded in 1994 by Producing Artistic Director Randy Reinholz (Choctaw) and Emeritus Producing Executive Director Jean Bruce Scott, Native Voices became the resident theatre company at the Autry Museum in 1999 and has produced 26 plays (including 22 world premieres) in 39 productions, 25 New Play Festivals, 8 Short Play Festivals, 16 Playwrights Retreats, numerous national and international tours, more than 230 workshops and over 275 play readings.
In 2014 the company established the Native Voices Artists Ensemble to more fully support the extraordinary talents of its Native actors, writers, musicians, directors, designers, and producers. The Ensemble is devoted to developing new work in a collaborative process as well as supporting Native Voices’ ongoing focus on the work of individual playwrights.
Widely respected in both the Native American and theatre communities for its breakthrough plays and diverse programming, Native Voices maintains successful long-term relationships with Oregon Shakespeare Festival, New York’s Public Theater, Vision Maker Media, Washington’s Kennedy Center, the National Museum of the American Indian, the Alaska Native Heritage Center, Perseverance Theatre, Montana Rep, and La Jolla Playhouse, where Native Voices at the Autry was also the 2016-2018 resident theatre company.
Native Voices is a member of Actors’ Equity Association, LA Stage Alliance, and the Dramatists Guild; an associate member of the National New Play Network; and a Constituent Theatre of Theatre Communications Group (TCG), the national organization for the American theatre.
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 Museum, 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 Museum’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.