August 18, 2008

Two Worlds Festival Fetes Playwrights

By Journal Staff Report

Staged readings of plays by Native American playwrights continue today at the VSA North Fourth Art Center's N4th Theater, 4904 Fourth NW.

They are part of the Two Worlds Festival conceived by Taos Pueblo playwright and filmmaker James Lujan, according to a festival news release.

The theme is the struggle faced by many in the American Indian community -- modern modes vs. traditional ways, urban life vs. reservation life, the earthly vs. the spiritual.

"Fancy Dancer, a dark comedy by Canadian playwright Dawn Dumont, will be staged at 4 p.m. The play taps into Native trickster stories and the public's obsession with TV, but it also tackles a terrifying reality -- the disappearance of more than 500 Native women in Canada during the past 15 years.

"Asdzani Shash: The Woman Who Turned Into A Bear," a contemporary retelling of a Navajo legend by Albuquerque native Rhiana Yazzie, will be on stage at 8 p.m. The play is set in a convalescent home near the Navajo reservation, but it is never far from the world of storytelling and myth.

"Little Big Horn," a two-act comedy by San Diego's Alan Kilpatrick, was presented Friday. It began in 1876 at the Battle of the Little Big Horn and moved to an American Embassy in the present- day Middle East to tell the story of Marine Cpl. Norman Hayes, born Sioux but raised by the Jewish couple who adopted him.

The three plays were selected from among 18 submitted by Native playwrights in the United States and Canada; one will be selected for a full production during the festival.

Admission is $5 per play. Call 344-4542 for reservations.

Short movies by Native Americans will be screened during the film portion of the festival at 8 p.m. Aug. 22 and 23. A different series of films will be shown each night. Admission is $5.

"Lost and Found," a short film written, filmed and edited by a team of Albuquerque-area Native Americans, with the guidance of movie industry professionals, premieres during the Aug. 23 session. Made especially for the festival, it's the humorous story of an American Indian from Malibu who gets lost in a mountain forest while making a movie for the History Channel.

Creative Spirit New Mexico, a Native American film production and training initiative of VSA North Fourth Art Center and the Southern California Indian Center Inc. produced the film.

In conjunction with the festival, "Two Worlds: Photographs by Native American Youth" is showing in the N4th Gallery through Aug. 31. Taken during a five-month period by eighthgrade students at Albuquerque's Native American Community Academy, the photos delve into the two worlds of these young people as they grow up Native and American, on the reservation and in the city, with both traditional and modern sensibilities.

Gallery hours are during festival events and N4th Theater performances, or by calling 344-4542 for an appointment.

N4th Theater & Gallery provide creative and cultural access and exploration for people of every ability through the arts. The theater and gallery are in the VSA North Fourth Art Center, which is affiliated with the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. For more information, visit

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