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A problematic ‘princess:’ Homecoming play options racially insensitive Native American stereotype | Leisure

This yr’s homecoming musical “Curtains” features a homicide thriller, dance numbers and a present inside a present that depicts a Kickapoo Native American performed by a white actress.

Primarily based on the guide written by Rupert Holms, “Curtains” had its first debut in 2007 with music by John Kander. It was then nominated for a number of awards, in response to The play is about within the Nineteen Fifties.

In an interview with The Bulletin, director and affiliate professor of communication and theater Pete Rydburg defined that the scene includes a “present inside a present” that’s based mostly on the musical “Oklahoma” and is known as “Kansasland.” The character generally known as Bambi in “Curtains” is an actress who performs a personality named Princess Kickapoo. The Kickapoo character has a dance quantity within the Kansasland efficiency.

Denise Lowe, a Native American, 2006 to 2008 Kansas poet laureate and professor at Haskell Indian Nations College, feels the scene encourages stereotypical illustration that would not be tolerated with different races.

“Would they do that with a Jewish individual?” Lowe stated. “Would they do that with an African American? Are you able to think about what the NAACP (Nationwide Affiliation for the Development of Coloured Individuals) would say over representing some type of blackface or among the Nineteen Fifties stereotypes of African American individuals? It could simply not be tolerated.”

Rydburg, nonetheless, defended the choice.

“Definitely, there are going to be individuals who completely discover it extremely exhausting to think about any state of affairs the place the illustration of an indigenous individual could be caricatured on this approach,” Rydburg stated. “And it is an absolute caricature, it isn’t a suitable

illustration, however it’s a commentary on the historic, unacceptable illustration.”

Rydburg stated he did make slight modifications to the strains and the visible illustration of Princess Kickapoo. The character won’t be carrying any type of headdress or face paint throughout the scene.

“So far as modifications, I might say the one modification that I’ve made is within the rating,” Rydburg stated. “Bambi as she performs Kickapoo does a ‘whoop, whoop, whoop,’ type of like warfare cry as she enters. And I didn’t assume that was helpful.”

Nonetheless, Lowe says these adjustments are “a disservice” of Native Individuals as we speak.

“I actually admire individuals attempting to do some diligence in eradicating Conflict-hoops, for instance,” Lowe stated. “However to perpetuate a stereotype within the play, doesn’t serve native individuals. It is for a white viewers, not Native individuals.”

Sarah McDonald, freshman psychology main, is a white actress who’s enjoying Bambi. McDonald stated she did have considerations concerning the scene initially.

“I grew up in Flagstaff, Arizona. And so I grew up surrounded by Native American reservations,” McDonald stated. “And so that is positively by no means one thing that in my private life, I might go do. However I simply should hold reminding myself that it is not me. It is Bambi. And it is within the 50s. That is how theater labored within the 50s.”

A land acknowledgment can be given earlier than the musical begins that acknowledges the displacement of Native Individuals. This land acknowledgment is one that’s given earlier than each present at ESU, in response to Rydburg.

“I admire the truth that they’ve educated themselves sufficient to do a land acknowledgment,” Lowe stated. “However these are empty phrases if they don’t additionally put into motion respect for the persevering with native individuals who proceed to reside on Turtle Island.”

Performances for “Curtains” can be held at 7:30 pm on Thursday, Friday and Saturday and a pair of pm on Sunday in King Corridor within the Karl C. Bruder theater.


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