The Valiant Chattee-Maker is a piece I started back in 2006 based on a request from a friend who was directing a high school drama program in Texas and wanted an original piece to perform for elementary students. Her plans changed, though, and with no immediate monetary incentive to finish, I stopped work until March 2010, when I had solemnly sworn to myself to submit something to the Mayhew playwriting contest at BYU.
The piece is a retelling of an old Indian story my mother found somewhere in a local library once and used to tell us out loud, quite dramatically, afterward. She had also written a play version to be performed by the children in our extended family at one of our family reunions. I was interested in writing a version to be performed by older actors and watched primarily by
While performing with New Play Project on its one-and-only touring show, I'd noticed that Julie Saunders' short, absurdist play "Caution" was particularly popular with children, who seem to love actor energy, especially when couched in comic panic, more than anything about a piece. My hope for this piece was to combine visual appeal and theatricality with that sort of energy.
In a larger sense, I'm also trying in this piece to celebrate shameless cultural mixture. In some cases, our desire to appreciate other cultures leads to a desire to preserve other cultures in some pure, "authentic," unchanging state--which does a disservice to anyone actually working out everyday multicultural life. What I want to present is not so much an Indian past, but an Indian-American present and future where, say, Harpo Marx fits fine into an old folktale. (If you're interested in this idea, you might also want to look at my short story "Tales of Teancum Singh Rosenberg.")
This piece didn't place in the Mayhew Contest. I'd love to see it performed some day, but have no plans or means for doing so.
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