The Native American Play Festival takes to the stage again in Oklahoma City.
Cherokee playwright Diane Glancy has published a lot of plays. But seeing plays published and seeing them performed are two very different things. This summer she’s looking forward to the Oklahoma City Theatre Company’s production of her latest offering, Salvage. The company will perform the play at Oklahoma City’s City Space Theatre from June 1-10.
Every summer sees the Oklahoma City Theatre Company pour effort into the Native American New Play Festival, highlighting plays by the best Native American playwrights in the nation.
“I feel that investing our resources into the festival could someday bring national recognition to our theater company. There’s nothing like this, a yearly competition festival, in the state or in the region for Native Americans. As a theater company in Oklahoma, it’s really our duty to do something that brings things that are unique to Oklahoma to the forefront,” says artistic director Rachel Irick.
The company’s festival, a two-week celebration of Native American playwrights and their works, is in its third year. It began as a humble reading of plays by Native American authors and grew from there. Each year Irick and her team select one of the readings for a full presentation for the following year’s festival. Their choice isn’t just based on the best reading; it’s also a matter of finding a good fit for the company.
“Any festival that gives voice to a culture is important. It’s an educational process, it’s an awareness process and in this case it helps the Native American culture look at itself and work out some problems,” says Glancy.
Salvage tells two tales: The story of a car collision between two men and a story of the collision of Native American and European cultures. It’s also a tale of loss, revenge and family loyalty. The author, a University of Central Oklahoma graduate, confesses to pulling out all the stops for it. It’s the kind of work that’s garnered Glancy the American Book Award, a Pushcart Prize, the Five Civilized Tribes Playwriting Prize and the Oklahoma Book Award. From 1980 to 1986, Glancy served as the Artist-in-Residence for the State Arts Council of Oklahoma. The experience influenced several of her works, including Salvage.
Salvage has been produced before in Los Angeles and London. This is its first appearance in Oklahoma.
“I’m looking forward to seeing the play again. Every time you have a different director and actors that put their own interpretation on a play you see another dimension to it that you didn’t know was there. I’m looking forward to seeing it very much,” Glancy says.