American Indian Theatre Alive and Well at CMN

Nov 15th, 2007 | By | Category: 19-2: Our Story, Our Way, Tribal College News
By Ryan Winn

The last week of their summer semester, the College of Menominee Nation (CMN, Keshena, WI) presented two short plays by decorated Assiniboine playwright William S. Yellow Robe, Jr. The plays, The Body Guards and Sneaky, are both comedies that depict death and grieving on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation in Wolf Point, MT.

CMN has produced plays before, but this summer marked the first showing of the college’s Theatre Production course: THE201. Theatre Production is a fine arts elective for students, and the course’s objective is to create American Indian theatrical productions for the benefit of the students and the college community. Many families, friends, and community members gathered at the college’s Green Bay campus on the evenings of July 25-27 to witness this inaugural event in CMN’s history.

The Theatre Production course is unique in that every aspect of the productions is designed and executed by the students. As in most acting courses, every student enrolled is required to study Stanislavski’s theories of method acting, and then the class auditions for various roles in the productions.

However, what makes this course different is that the students auditioned for both acting and technical roles. Once the production is cast, the actors rehearse while the course’s technical staff creates the set, props, posters, programs, costumes, and sound design. Slowly but surely, all of these elements come together and create a unified theatrical production.

The success of the summer Theatre Production class was not only evident in the show’s attendance and reception but also in the enthusiasm of the students. These students were selfless with their time in creating the show. They also capitalized upon the opportunity to both entertain their community and then to recruit prospective students to the college during the receptions that followed each production. This production went a long way in proving that nothing brings a community together like the performing arts.

For information, contact Ryan Winn, English and Theatre faculty member, at College of Menominee Nation, (800) 567-2344, ext 3070.

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