Unique perspectives on the roots and reaches of contemporary Native Theater from the 2019 Poet Laureate of the United States
Joy Harjo's play Wings of Night Sky, Wings of Morning Light is the centerpiece of this collection that includes essays and interviews concerning the roots and the reaches of contemporary Native Theater. Harjo blends storytelling, music, movement, and poetic language in Wings of Night Sky, Wings of Morning Light—a healing ceremony that chronicles the challenges young protagonist Redbird faces on her path to healing and self-determination. This text is accompanied by interviews with Native theater artists Rolland Meinholtz and Randy Reinholz, as well as an interview with Harjo, conducted by Page. The interviews highlight the lives and contributions of Meinholtz, a theater artist and educator who served as the drama instructor at the Institute of American Indian Arts from 1964–70 and a close mentor and friend to Harjo; and Reinholz, producing artistic director of Native Voices at the Autry, the nation's only Equity theater company dedicated exclusively to the development and production of new plays by Native American, First Nations, and Alaska Native playwrights. The new interview with Harjo focuses on her experiences working in theater.
Essays on Harjo's work are provided by Mary Kathryn Nagle—an enrolled citizen of the Cherokee nation, playwright, and attorney who shares her insights on the legal and historical frameworks through which we can better understand the significance of Harjo's play; and Priscilla Page—writer, performer, and educator (of Wiyot heritage), who looks at indigenous feminism, jazz, and performance as influences on Harjo's theatrical work.
"Harjo's play follows an ancient path, that of tribal creation, healing pain, loss, love, and ultimately helps us remember we will survive. Wings of Night Sky, Wings of Morning Light: A Play by Joy Harjo and a Circle of Responses is destined to become a classic."~LeAnne Howe, Edison Distinguished Professor in American Literature, University of Georgia
"This play clearly illuminates the collective grief, disconnection and suffering many indigenous people experience because of the brutalities of colonization. But more importantly, Joy's voice gives us strength, by reconnecting us to our ancestors, to our guardian spirits, and to each other."~Victoria Nalani Kneuhbuhl, Pacific Island Author and Playwright
"Joy Harjo is a masterful and remarkable Native artist. She is known as a writer across genres including poetry, essays, and picture books. She is a musician with a lyrical voice holding a saxophone between her tattooed fingers. And she is a national treasure."~Loriene Roy, Professor, School of Information, University of Texas at Austin
"Through the lens of Joy Harjo's mandate 'to follow the mystery' and the 'liminal backroads' of art practice, we arrive at the terror and wonder of the theatrical moment as a site of healing for all of us."~Cherríe Moraga, Playwright, The Mathematics of Love