by Mary Kathryn Nagle
Originally produced at Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Ashland, OR
March 28 to October 27, 2018
About the Premiere Production:
Synopsis: Securities trader Jane Snake is torn between worlds. Her return to Wall Street in 2008 brings her to Manahatta (“island of many hills” in Lenape), the homeland her ancestors were violently forced to leave in the 1600s. Meanwhile, her family in Oklahoma struggles to save their over-mortgaged home. In Mary Kathryn Nagle’s spellbinding world-premiere drama, past and present intertwine to illuminate the tragic consequences of the commercial exploits that gave rise to the America we know today – and that marginalized and erased Native American people and history. Jane’s return to Manahatta defiantly demonstrates that the Lenape are still here.
Artistic Statement: Manahatta s a powerful new play by the playwright, lawyer and activist Mary Kathryn Nagle, a citizen of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma and an honorary member of the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska. It beautifully interweaves present day events with the 17th-century history of the Lenape people, skillfully incorporating Lenape language and song. As Ms. Nagle’s characters discuss in the play, Lenape is a language in danger of dying. The importance of hearing it on stage is ever more resonant. Further, Manahatta is a contemporary and relevant story about America’s recent history that portrays the Lenape’s particular experience, history and language – the latter rarely seen on stage – in a unique blending of perspectives that complement and complicate each other. Manahatta is a vital American play about the Native experience, the cyclical nature of history and vulnerability, and the effect of returning to one’s place of heritage – a brilliantly and authentically told story that resonates and echoes across cultures. We are honored to stage this production of Manahatta and anticipate that it will have that it will have a long production life in American theatre. – Bill Rauch, Artistic Director.
Grant Statement: It is rare for Native American playwrights to be produced in American theatre, and premiering Manahatta at a theatre the size of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival is a high stakes opportunity for Ms. Nagle, OSF and the field. Telling a Native story comes with the responsibility for the piece to be presented in a way that is true to the Native experience. The extended rehearsal made possible by the Edgerton Foundation New Play Award advances and deepens the work significantly in preparation for its world premiere. With the full creative team together for the first time, Ms. Nagle, Ms. Woolery and the cast can perfect the complex doubling and tripling of characters that will enhance their challenging and essential on-stage transformations, delve together into the intricate Lenape language, cultural references and history, and refine the brilliant interspersing of Lenape language and song throughout the play. – Bill Rauch, Artistic Director
Director: Laurie Woolery
Set Designer: Mariana Sanchez
Lighting Designer: James F. Ingalls
Costume Designer: E.B. Brooks
Sound Designer: Paul James Prendergast
Cast: Danforth Comins, Rainbow Dickerson, Steven Flores, David Kelly, Jeffrey King, Tanis Parenteau, Sheila Tousey
Lenape Consultant: Zunigha Curtis
Dramaturg: Leslie Ishii
Projection Designer: Mark Holthusen