Evening at the Warbonnet and Other Plays

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9780935626605: Evening at the Warbonnet and Other Plays

Drama. Native American Studies. The five plays in this collection by Bruce King offer a ride into an American Indian twilight zone that the author has been exploring for much of his career. The abnormal, often surreal settings of these plays provide a backdrop for his observations on the eternal struggle between good and evil and the challenge of living the proper Indian way. From the barbaric, drug-drenched trenches of Vietnam, to a supernaturally challenged Indian home on an Indian reservation, to the hip, familiar sounds and smells of an Indian bar located just this side of the other side, we hear the voice of a moralist who knows all too well how easy it is not to live up to the prescribed code because he himself has been there and done it all.

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About the Author:

A noted playwright, screenplay writer, and artist, Bruce King’s work has been performed across the United States and in Canada. His plays have been staged primarily in Native American and Canadian Native communities, but also in New York at Café La Mama and the Westside MainStage. King is currently employed with the WarDancer Film Group, a production company. He previously taught theater and theater production at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe.

In addition to directing several of his own plays, King has staged pieces for the Institute of American Indian Arts, the Santa Fe Performing Arts Academy, the Armory for the Arts, and the Native American Center for the Living Arts. He has also served as the artistic director of IAIA Players, Indian Time Theater, and the Echo-Hawk Theatre Ensemble. In recent years, King has worked extensively with Haskell Indian Nations University’s Thunderbird Theatre and Pat Melody’s drama program.

King is a veteran of the Vietnam War, having served three years in the United States Army. He attended Northwestern University, the University of Illinois, NAES College in Chicago, the Institute of American Indian Arts, and Santa Fe Community College. A Sundance Institute fellow, King is a member of teh Turtle Clan, Hodenausaunee-Oneida Nation, a nation of the Iroquois Confederacy.

Review:

With its roots in indigenous traditions of oratory, ceremony, and communal genesis and performance, American Indian theater is arguably the most holistic form of Native American literature. As noted by playwright Bruce King, author of this collection, theater s structured illusions transcend time, languages, and cultures to bring immediacy and originality to every new performance of a staged production, because theatre is a living art. 1 King is a member of the Turtle Clan of Hodenausaunee-Oneida Nation and has been a vital member of the Native theater scene since publishing his first play, To Catch a Never Dream, in 1969 at the tender age of seventeen.2Evening at the Warbonnet and Other Plays is King s first published collection. The six-part dedication of the book (to his wife, to his kids, to his mother and siblings, to all the Vietnam War veterans[,] / to the Hodenausaunee and / to the American Indian Studies Center ) provides a fitting outline of the content and concerns of the five plays gathered within this volume. The plays grapple with subverting stereotypes and representing the complexities of Native communities contemporary concerns: the continuance of ancestral beliefs, cultural practices, and spiritual expressions; addressing the backstabbing and jockeying for political power that arises between community members; and facing shame over acts of betrayal, deception, and violence to return to living in a good way. Written between 1979 and 2003, King s five plays (Whispers [End Page 110] from the Other Side, Dustoff, Threads: Ethel Nickle s Little Acre, Wolf in Camp, and Evening at the Warbonnet) are prefaced with brief Production History notes that will be helpful to students and scholars of American Indian theatrical history. The collection demonstrates King s artistic development across more than two decades and takes us for a ride into an American Indian twilight zone, as Hanay Geiogamah notes in the collection s introduction, where we meet a range of characters including corrupt tribal officials, shattered Vietnam vets, and old Coyote himself/herself, who because of an aborted scam on Creator has been working cleanup crew in an Indian bar called The Warbonnet for the past three hundred years. As this scenario makes clear, King frequently weaves threads of humor and playfulness even into some of the plays most serious moments.-Jane Haladay, University of North Carolina, Pembroke --Jane Haladay, University of North Carolina, Pembroke

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Bruce King
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