Continuing its role as the only Equity theatre company dedicated to developing new work by Native American artists, Native Voices at the Autry presents Off the Rails by Randy Reinholz (Choctaw*). A bawdy and irreverent adaptation of Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure set in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West, the production is presented as part of Native Voices at the Autry’s 2014–2015 season, themed “Legacy and Loss: Stories From the Indian Boarding School.”
“In Off the Rails I’ve relocated Shakespeare’s conflicts to the American frontier. We see love, righteousness, faith, and mercy compete for provenance in the foundation of a country. Adapting Shakespeare for a Native theatre company provides the structure and historical distance needed to explore why so much of the Native American story is missing from U.S. history,” said Reinholz, Native Voices Producing Artistic Director. “A key issue in Indian country today is the contradictory legacy and cultural damage of the American Indian boarding school system, whose motto was ‘Kill the Indian, Save the Man.’ In a moment in time when many Americans were advocating for the physical extermination of the remaining 218,000 American Indians it might seem that cultural genocide was the more benevolent choice. Important? Yes. Heavy? Not in this production. Think Blazing Saddles meets Shakespeare — with Native Americans taking the reins.”
Set in the nineteenth century in fictional Genoa, Nebraska, Off the Rails focuses on Momaday (Shaun Taylor-Corbett), a young boarding school student who has been sentenced to death for impregnating an Irish girl. Brothel owner Madame Overdone (Shyla Marlin), her working girls, and saloon patrons hatch a plot to rescue Momaday. Key to his salvation is his older sister Isabel (Elizabeth Frances), a graduate of a boarding school. To save her brother, Isabel must win the affections of Captain Angelo (Michael Matthys), the new superintendent of the school. Angelo’s Victorian rules for life are threatened by his primal lust when the women in town combine forces to challenge his brief authority and save Momaday.
Off the Rails tackles the controversial and rarely discussed topic of Indian boarding schools. Typically absent from our nation’s history books, schools affected generations of Native Americans in unimaginable ways. Culture and identities were stripped, languages lost, lifelong friends were made, and unions were strengthened. Off the Rails dramatizes the polarizing national tensions in an audience-friendly way by combining knee-slapping comedy, vibrant music, and a set that transports theatregoers to 1886.
Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles’ Associate Artistic Director Chris Anthony directs the production. Also included in the cast are Bernard K. Addison, Ted Barton, Samantha Bowling, Kailey Erin Bray, Victoria Flores, Emily Lenkeit, Duane Minard, Adrieanne Perez, Christopher Salazar, Alec Shamas, LeVance Tarver, Robert Vestal, and Román Zaragoza
OFF THE RAILS
Feb 25 – March 15, 2015 (opening night 2/27/15)
Native Voices at the Autry
Autry National Center
4700 Western Heritage Way
Los Angeles, CA 90027-1462
Tickets/Info: (323) 495-4354 or TheAutry.org/NativeVoices
Click Here for discount tickets.