by Don Zolidis
directed by Guy Sanville
originally produced at Purple Rose Theatre Company,
April 6, 2012
through June 2, 2012
Based on actual events, White Buffalo tells the story of the miracle birth of a white buffalo calf on a small farm in southern Wisconsin. When Carol Gelling discovers that one of the buffalo on her farm was born white, she thinks it’s just a curiosity. Soon, however, she learns that this is the fulfillment of a prophecy, a birth believed by the Sioux to bring peace on earth and unity to all mankind. Her little farm is quickly overwhelmed with religious pilgrims, bringing her into contact with a culture and faith wholly unfamiliar to her. When someone offers to buy the calf for $2 million, she is thrown into doubt about whether to profit from the religious beliefs of others or to keep true to a spirituality she knows nothing of.
"Presenting plays that explore and illuminate the wide diversity of souls that call the middle of America home has always been a core component of the Purple Rose Theatre’s mission. So, it was an auspicious day in 2006 when such a play, White Buffalo, arrived at the Purple Rose through our open submissions policy. Don Zolidis’ smart dialogue, well-drawn characters, and magical storytelling impressed me on my first reading. In addition to the story, theme, and characters, White Buffalo uses storytelling conventions that correspond with our strengths as a theatre company. This is more than simply a story of a family in the Midwest. It is a story about miracles and our willingness to believe in them. In fact, it is precisely the kind of play we do best. And, because of the Edgerton Foundation New American Play Award, it is a play that we are able to do.
"Because of the collaborative nature of this production — the extensive blending of theatrical forms, the collaborations of creative staff from cross-disciplinary and diverse backgrounds — beyond the demands of typically intense rehearsals, an expanded and more comprehensive rehearsal process is critical to the success of White Buffalo. This extended rehearsal time will also allow us to more fully focus on work with an ensemble cast and the utilization of physical action to create, in the imagination of the audience, discrete, highly defined spaces in a believable world.
White Buffalo rehearsals will mark the first time that all the creative staff — playwright, director, actors, choreographer, designers, Native American musicians, chorus members, and fabricators — will work together. This will also mark the first time in our history that so many theatrical disciplines will be used to create a production.
White Buffalo will test the Purple Rose Theatre’s technical and creative abilities. Only a prolonged rehearsal process marked by successful collaborations can produce White Buffalo as a critical and popular success. From the Edgerton Foundation New American Play Award, and from the rehearsal process it has made possible, will come a play that can engage audiences while celebrating themes as intangible as the transience of life and the importance of belief."
Director: Guy Sanville
Cast: Michelle Mountain