Original Native American play debuts at Black Box Theatre

On Nov. 5, “Wood Bones,” an original play written and directed by the Assiniboine playwright William Yellow Robe Jr., took the stage at the Black Box Theatre in the Class of 1944 Hall. Although the play had cast members that were not Native American, it was performed with respect in all roles.

To display respect the Native American people, the play avoided red face and spent little time trying to “sound Native.” Furthermore, Yellow Robe dedicated the play to the Dakota Pipeline Resistance Efforts and all proceeds from the Nov. 5 and Nov. 13 shows will be donated to their cause. The play also paid deference to Native culture; highlighting unique Native American traditions and beliefs, such as creation stories and Native American history.
The play itself also did not deviate away from hard to talk about topics, with themes spanning from racism to domestic abuse and other issues minority groups often face. The plot of the play follows the history of a home and all the events that the house experienced in the past and present. It was a very emotional play, which, due to its incorporation of Native American culture, was unlike what many have seen before.

“Humanity is not always measured in material wealth…we have to be aware of what we create because it lasts in this world and others,” Yellow Robe said after the show.

Although the turnout was relatively small, many felt that the performance was something special. “This show is good. The actors are really talented. The acting really surprised me, especially the little girl [in the play],” first-year chemical engineering student Molly Carlotto said during intermission.

This show, for all its strong messages and emotional power, was a challenge for many to perform. “Rehearsals were emotionally taxing,” third-year theatre student Isabella Estro said. Estro played the role of Christen. “Yellow Robe was really great. I was acting someone’s life and it was just heartbreaking…There’s just so much. The oppression of everyone is just not okay. We need to treat everyone with kindness and compassion and respect.”

“I approached [the character] LeRoy with the aspect of respect [when playing him],” first-year theatre and secondary education student Curran Grant said. “I’m not Indian and I’m not trying to be that. I was trying to play LeRoy with respect and I hope it translated as that.”

The play was also a great learning opportunity, not just for the audience, but also the cast. “This was my first serious character…it really helped me grow as an actor,” first-year biochemistry student Brady Lambert said. “It was a really nice experience.”

“Wood Bones” is $10 or free with a student MaineCard. “Wood Bones” will be playing from Nov. 10th to Nov. 12 at 7:30 p.m. and on Nov. 13 at 2 p.m. A talkback with the cast, crew and creatives will be held after the show on the final night.

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