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PlayPenn is collaborating with Native Voices at the Autry to create, Indigenous Circles. Photo: PlayPenn.com
PlayPenn is collaborating with Native Voices at the Autry to create, Indigenous Circles. Photo: PlayPenn.com

PlayPenn and Native Voices at the Autry Museum collaborate to amplify the work of Indigenous playwrights

Indigenous Circles is an upcoming workshop series for all to learn more about Native American culture and its unique arts community.

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PlayPenn, a local organization located in Center City has been a major part of the Philadelphia arts community since 2005.

The organization has helped develop over 140 new plays. 

Over 60% of these plays have gone on to spawn more than 350 productions at a number of prestigious global institutions.

Recently, PlayPenn revealed it will be collaborating with Native Voices at the Autry, the only Equity theatre company in the country devoted to developing and producing new works for the stage by Native American, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, and First Nations playwrights.

Together, PlayPenn and Native Voices at the Autry are creating, Indigenous Circles, a new program to diversify and showcase remarkable stories created by Indigenous writers.

Lily Rushing and J.R. Mathews, both indigenous writers, will be in attendance for the virtual reading.

Rushing’s work, Desert Stories for Lost Girls, will be what’s showcased.

She graduated from the Theatre School at DePaul University with a BFA in Playwriting. Desert Stories received a full production in April 2018, and was directed by Ann Filmer, also at Depaul.

Rushing’s public reading will be on Saturday, June 5.

Mathews, who is a descendant of the Quapaw and Seneca/Cayuga tribes of Oklahoma, will read his play, Feathers, and will have a public reading on Sunday, June 6 at 4 p.m.

Aside from playwriting, Mathews is also a producer and director who’s built quite the trophy case.

Native American writing is something that most Americans have never encountered, but there are various indigenous authors that have written screenplays, children’s books, and poetry that highlight the injustices and ostracization that countless have faced and been affected by.

Both Rushing and Mathews’ work alongside PlayPenn will continue spreading that message.

Both are able to display the love they have for their heritage without feeling constrained, which is one of the reasons why they are invested in promoting their work to broad audiences.

The Indigenous Circles workshop will be run from May 26 until June 6.

Another event that will take place virtually is “Approaching Native Plays: A Conversation on Best Practices.”

In it, doctors Bethany Hughes, Courtney Elkin Mohler, and DeLanna Studi will discuss various dilemmas still plaguing Native American arts communities across the country.

The panel discussion will take place on Wednesday, May 26 and will touch on the casting of Native plays, community engagement, culturally competent dramaturgy, allyship, and other challenging conventions.

This event is also free and open to everyone and anyone who will like to learn more about the many layers and roots of Native American culture.

To learn more about the Indigenous Circles workshop, check out PlayPenn’s website.

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