Monday, August 11, 2008

RNR Radio; travels and writing

Since my last post much has happened. I have travelled to White Earth Reservation in northern minnesota to interview Ojibwe artists; i have most recently been in Boston and Portland Maine for other work; and the end of August I will travel to Bemidji, Minnensota to interview more Ojibwe artists.

It is interesting that going on to the reservation we arrive with a handful or artists names and then by the 2nd day we are up to 30 to 40 names of artists. It is true that we, as native people, are artists; and also true that we don't necessarily separate our art from our daily lives, Artists working at their kitchen table or garage is commonplace for their studio.

Native artists also comment frequently about their artistic ability being a gift; or a gift of healing - this is how they cope with hard times, hard lives, desperate situations - and the creator blesses them with a means to keep moving forward.

We have also started rehearsals for our first Raving Natives Radio play. Adventures at Camp KaKeeKwaSha and the Magic Musky Casino! Just the rehearsals have been great fun - with the exciting new talent of three young people doing radio theater for the first time. I am hoping to be able to post photos in the near future.

My play: Friends.... is being published in a women's anthology out of New Brunswick..

I have two poems in the book County Lines published by Loonfeather Press
a short story coming out in a Milkweed anthology
it is good to be published - especially when trying to make a living at this thing called writing.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

taking a break - a playwriting workshop and a radio development discussion

it has been a while since i posted here. I spent one week in Kira Oblensky 'curious words' workshop. This workshop was exactly what i needed - it validated my process for writing, my style of writing text when creating plays and gave me new courage to not be swayed when certain things that i try to do as a playwright get called into question.

an interesting tidbit. one of the younger participants used the word Pepto-Bismol to personify a peony. kira talked about how this younger generation does use brands and marketing techniques in ways that we who are of a different generation may not. i am reminded of the young parents who are naming their children Noxema, Armani, Nautica, Timberland, Canon, Del Monte, and L'Oreal. New technology and the shrinking of the globe as well as the rapid proliferation of ideas is giving rise to additional means of labeling, naming and interacting.

we also were reminded, encouraged to utilize the insertion of stage directions to solidify what we as playwright intend to happen within our scripts - ah - this was a relief.

raving natives radio had a preliminary script development meeting. we discussed casting of character and timeline for which we hope to have first show ready for podcast.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Talk at Migizi

I met with students at Migizi communications yesterday and talked about being a native playwright. It was very encouraging to see their interest; to have them read from my script Bring the Children Home and see the acknowledgement on their faces and in their voices that they, as young native people, understood the story - understood the context of the story. They also wrote songs on a moments notice and a handful were brave enough to read them out-loud. I talked with them about the need for native actors; as playwright we can write for stage but when it comes to production we need native folks up there playing the parts.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Raving Native Radio

Alright!! check out this site:

Working with Ananya Dance

this past month i have been working with Ananya Dance company, writing poetry for a dance piece.

It has been amazing watching the discipline these women have to create dance - all women of color

DAAK, Call to Action
Shows: June 12-15, 2008, Thursday - Saturday at 8pm, Sunday at 7pm.
Post-show discussion Friday and Saturday
Venue: The Southern Theatre, 1420 Washington Ave. South, Minneapolis 55454
Box Office 612/ 340-1725 Tickets: $19 (includes $2 building preservation fee)

DAAK, Call to Action, responds to aggressive lands rights violations in several communities across the world. The project seeks to create relationships between transnational and diasporic communities through the sharing of the stories of women affected by such violations historically and currently. Testimonies from the Native communities of Leech Lake and Lower Sioux Reservations- where women are leading the Truth and Reconciliation Project in an effort to re-write the history of this state, a project particularly potent as the Sesquicentennial Commission proceeds with its plans to celebrate 150 years of MN's statehood without acknowledging the history of ethnic cleansing, genocide, and land appropriation that lies underneath our feet- will inform the project. We will also learn about the struggles of activists and artists in government-designated "special economic zones" in West Bengal, India, where agricultural land is being appropriated violently from poor farmers by the state in order to sponsor global industrial projects; and from the maquiladoras of Tijuana and Juarez, Mexico, where once again women are being forced to work in factories established on land violently seized from their communities. The piece will end with a "call to action" to audiences, inviting them into awareness of the trauma suffered by communities endangered by environmental racism, as well as the innovative ways in which they resist these phenomena. The piece itself will articulate the struggle over land rights through the innovative use of space and by imagining different relationships between bodies and land/ground.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

show is over

spirit in the house is over - at least our part of it - we had a good run. tonight raphael - singer, songwriter, recording artist (formerly of NYC) joined the show for two closing songs - folks loved him!! i saw a small crowd around him at the end of the show.
kohl performed superbly and added a new short piece for the last two shows
sigwan had to leave early today to do a video shoot for some thing to do with the city of minneapolis, i think. she also got lots of good encouragement about her acting. many folks commented that the federal parolee added to a larger understanding of the whole border issue.

so on to new and different writing and much better working relationships

Monday, May 26, 2008

spirit in the house - stands alone

we have had two shows at spirit in the house for Stands Alone featuring kohl miner in his storytelling series; and sigwan and kohl in borders uncrossed. kohl tells funny and poignant stories of his life as a gay native man. the second half of the show showcases sigwan as a young girl dumped by coyotes on the border - it also includes the initial scene of the native american federal parolee

yesterday sigwan answered questions about her acting; her opinion of her involvement and take on the border show she was originally cast in and let go from

yesterday we were honored to have big name guests in the audience: Juliana Pegues who wrote Q&A which is running at Mixed Blood theater in Minneapolis; and Bao Phi who stars in Q&A (sigwan is a big fan of Bao)

also Elizabeth O’Sullivan who wrote and stars in a show here at the fest: Witnessing to a Murder
Two women meet briefly in a hallway. Gunshots kill one of them send the other crashing through the boundaries that separate her from horror and from the voice of God.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Spirit in the House

Spirit in the House

Stands Alone
curated by Marcie Rendon, Raving Native Productions

Kohl Miner: The SemiConscious Memoirs of a Negligent Native

Sigwan Rendon and Kohl Miner in: Borders Uncrossed
the uncut opening of Borders Uncrossed
the US/Mexican border from a Native perspective

5:30pm May 24 - Saturday - Kohl, Sigwan and Kohl
7pm May 25 - Sunday - Kohl, Sigwan and Kohl

Thursday, May 29, 5:30 PM - Kohl Miner and Amy Salloway
Friday, May 30, 7:00 PM - Kohl, Sigwan and Kohl
Saturday, May 31, 2:30 PM - Kohl, Sigwan and Kohl

at: Spirit in the House
The Art Gallery (upstairs in the church)
Hennipen Ave Methodist Church
511 Groveland Ave
Minneapolis, MN 55403

$12 adults, $10 Student and Senior
$8 kids under 12. Available at the door

Friday, May 16, 2008

have been in california for this week - yesterday was a heat wave; quite the experience for this minnesota body not yet acclimated to summer weather - i wilted by late afternoon in the heat approaching 100 degrees. i have been thinking about indigenous people and how we have our tribal identity - based on language, spiritual beliefs and connection to a particular piece of land, area of land. so many indigenous people have been led to believe, through genocide and forced assimilation, acculturation that they are singularly 'indigenous' - 'native' - or some national identity - this erasing of tribal identity appears to create much internal confusion, and also lessens the ability to relate with other tribal identified folks. it is heartbreaking in the same way of meeting folks who are the product of foster/adoption out who have not figure out how to come home. we recognize them as family but it is like they cannot see us as them.... that was one of the strengths of the indigenous conference - the peoples there KNEW who they were and stood firmly in their selves, their tribal identities and their sense of belonging. this is my hope for all native peoples - that we can all find once again that being, that place, that sureness of being and standing exactly where we are - belonging there/here.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

yesterday at the indigenous theater conference we heard from isabel juarez espinoza, an indigenous actress from chiapas; about her struggles becoming an actress in the face of sexism and how other women are now joining the company and it has become a place of empowerment for the women who come to the city.  they are using theater to address issues of self-esteem, domestic violence.   beth piatote, from UC Berkley read an amazing poem about being taught beadwork - it is one of those stories that might be best heard; as she did it with the rez accent - very cool.  it is published in a book called Reckonings, out of Oxford Press.  Carolyn Dunn sang, as did Roberta Hill Whiteman.  And i believe it was Javier Castellanos who had the translators laughing to the point of tears in their attempts to translate his work about suicide feelings as a political refugee in the north, way north - if i have the wrong name i will post it later; he apparently is hilariously funny - it was one of those times when folks were laughing, trying to translate and i think those of us listening got lost in the laughter.  Today is the last day of the conference.  It has been incredibly powerful to see this reminder of the prophecies about the meeting of the eagle and the the condor.

Monday, May 12, 2008

i am currently at the Indigenous Writers of the Americas Conferences - Discursive Practices: the Formation of a Transnational Indigenous Poetics at the University of Davis, California.  To be in the presence of indigenous writers, poets, playwrights, scholars and artist/healers from across the two continents is amazingly encouraging, hopeful and healing.  To not have to question or censor ones words, ones thinking and to be understood beyond the borders of language, education, class or imposed nationality is very affirming on a spiritual and creative level.

The entire conference is being translated back and forth between spanish and english with many of the participants initially speaking in their original language first.  It is beautiful.

Last night we heard from Frank LaPena, Jorge Cocom Pech, Graciela Huinao, Victor Montejo, Fredy Romeiro Campo Chicangana and Joy Harjo.  And there are two more days to go.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

i spoke last night on KFAI with rhiana yazzie, harry waters and meena natarajan about native theater here in minneapolis/st. paul.  the 30 minutes flew by. the program can be heard online for the next two weeks by going to the KFAI site - Womanspeaks.  
 i spoke today with a non-native playwright who talked about power structure within the theater arts community.  when she talked about power imbalance i said that i use the term racism when i feel that non-native people are using their power to overpower another's voice when that other person is non-white.
while this period of time has been frustrating and hard it is also good the number of conversations that have happened as a result.  

Friday, May 2, 2008

creating warmth

i used to sew quilts.  i would save what i considered the most beautiful pieces of fabric to sew into beautiful coverings.  i remember going to a theater company and collecting bags of satin and velvet scraps leftover from costume making for a Shakespeare production.  i turned those scraps into a beautiful patchwork quilt that i gave away at a yearly giveaway.  As i look through the pages and pages of text and dialogue that was not been used in this most recent production masquerading as my work, i realize that the best work got dropped on the cutting floor and left for me to re-vision.  a friend in the community has organized a healing ritual, after which i will began to sew these dropped pieces of text into a new body of work.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

original and edited

desert crossing…
© 2008 marcie rendon

I am yaqui, pasquali, mexican, pronghorn, sand lizard, gringo,
I am the sons and daughters of migrant dreams
gringos come south looking for eye candy
Hot tamales and discounted medical care
mexica’s head north
Hungry for a slice of apple pie
With dreams bought on credit
And hopes Western Union-ed home each fortnight

I am four-legged
I came here looking for tender plants to feed on
And found a continent divided
The shell of turtle island scarred
Metal wall
Separates mother father
Sister brother
Lover lover

Barbed wire, (made in china)
tops concrete (mixed of mexican sand) wall
Electric current buzz hurts my ears
Israeli drone’s night-seek body heat
Across cooling desert floor
This string of lights
Dilates pupils with artificial light
I become frozen in the glare of manmade insanity

A continent divided
Which side prison
Which side freedom
Ancient migratory journeys become international flashpoints of insanity


I came here looking for tender plants to feed on
I am pronghorn, sand lizard,
and the dust of fallen migratory dreams
I came here looking for water to quench
a drought induced thirst
And found a border
Of barbed wire and
Steel walls
Electric current buzz hurts my ears
This string of lights
Is the sun out of place
My pupils dilate and I freeze
Fight or flight not an option
Detained at this border
I see my family over there
They dance they hope they dream
Metal wall
Separates mother father
Sister brother
Lover lover
I am deer
Evolved for survival in dry heat
today my partner is over there
This wall interferes with mating rituals
Designed by centuries of evolution for survival
Deer is mother is father is life is search for food,
is search for diversity is lost partner is eating plants is hope detained

Immigrants playing immigrants

The first poem is the original version of text that i wrote for a scene in the production of Border Crossing. Following it is the edited down, watered down version that appears on stage.
While I prefer to use the word migrants for all the indigenous peoples who have travelled this continent since time began - exchanging resource, ceremony, knowledge and story - I had to laugh at my friend Jim Northrup's take on the situation of white folks portraying the migrants on stage - he e-mailed me the line:  immigrants playing immigrants.  It was the best laugh I've had about the whole disaster.