American Theatre Cover Story: Native Women Rising

Why three premieres in Oregon are a sign of the times—and a long time coming.


This doesn’t happen every season: In Oregon this April, you can see three new plays by Native women produced at major resident theatres. Larissa FastHorse’s The Thanksgiving Play will be performed at Artists Repertory Theatre April 1-29; DeLanna Studi’s And So We Walked will be up at Portland Center Stage at the Armory March 31-May 13; and Mary Kathryn Nagle’s Manahatta opens at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival March 28 and runs through Oct. 27. If you stop through Portland on your way to or from Ashland in April, you could see all three in one trip.

While the timing of this convergence is unique, FastHorse (Sicangu Lakota), Nagle (Cherokee), and Studi (Cherokee) are in no way new to the American theatre. They’ve made it this far because of their creativity, their community and ancestral support, and their unflinching belief that Native stories matter and will be told. Also: Their plays are really good. They vary widely in genre, as do the origins of each story. Each play has the ability to make you laugh and open your eyes to see the world around you in unexpected ways.