Minority women write Indianapolis theater series

Local

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Indiana Repertory Theatre is featuring productions written by minority women.

A goal of the INclusion Series is to give the audience a look at minority life. The theater says the right play can teach the audience.

“We’re dedicating a series of plays to the Native American, Chinese-American and African-American experience here in Indiana,” said assistant artistic director Ben Hanna.

Theater representatives said the series set the stage for new voices.

“It’s not just for audiences of color. It’s also for our white audiences as well, for audiences to know and understand their neighbors,” Hanna said. “And that’s a very diverse experience in America. And make sure all those stories are told with respect.”

The curtain closed last month on the first play, “And So We Walked: An Artist’s Journey Along the Trail of Tears.”

The Trail of Tears is the name given to the forced relocation during the 1830s of indigenous peoples of the Eastern Woodlands of the Southeast region of the United States to Indian Territory west of the Mississippi River.

During the first play in the series, Hanna said, “I was amazed at how much American history I did not know or had been taught incorrectly. I think that it was a beautiful telling from the Cherokee perspective.”

The second play in the series will be “The Watsons Go to Birmingham-1963.” It will run from Feb. 1 through March 1. Janet Allen, Indiana Repertory Theatre executive artistic director, said, “Part of the revelation of the play is the children have not experienced this kind of overt racism that they experience in both the drive and then the time in Alabama.”

The final play, “The Paper Dreams of Harry Chin,” will run from March 25 through April 19. Allen said the play is about the Chinese Exclusion Act, which was a period of about 60 years in the 19th and 20th centuries where Chinese laborers were banned from immigrating to the United States.

While the plays highlight stories from the minority perspective, several themes — from family to struggling — will resonate with everyone. All three of the plays have families at their core. “And families that are wrestling with their own cultural past,” Allen said. “And that intersecting with mainstream culture and the good and bad that comes with that.”

Hanna said, “These are real American lives that are three-dimensional and beautiful and are told in a way that will inspire you to want to know more.”

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