Audio plays are coming your way thanks to New Native Theater and the National Native American 10 minute play’s festivals of years past. Here’s reporter Leah Lemm with the story.
When COVID hit, theaters went dark, but the show must go on, so to speak. New Native Theater was up to the challenge. It hosted a play festival, workshops and more. And now, audio plays from their past National Native American 10 Minute Play Festivals are being released as podcasts. I spoke with Sara Pillatzki, artistic associate for New Native Theater.
Sara Pillatzki: Right around the time I was hired at New Native Theater, they had started to record these 10 minute plays that we had done in person at the festival as audio plays. And so we would have our dramaturge work with the playwrights and make any changes that needed to happen for audio format, et cetera. But so what we’re releasing now is the first from the very first 10 minute play festival. We’ve released one and we’re getting, ramping up into releasing about another four and then one each month,” Pillatzki said.
Leah Lemm: And what’s different about these audio plays versus just hit and record to a stage play?
Sara Pillatzki: Yeah, so what’s been really exciting is that we are getting to play in the podcast format. So before the play even starts, you’ll hear a little bit of an introduction from Rhiana Yazi, our artistic director. And then the play itself, we record like it is sort of radio.
Leah Lemm: Like the old radio play with like, sound effects and stuff like that.
Sara Pillatzki: Totally. And we record all the actors, we record on zoom, but they record locally and then send their recordings to our TD, Peter Morrow. And he puts everything together. He really edits it. So it’s got lots of layers of sound and the sound is the thing that really is helping us sort of establish location when you’re not in person. So he’ll add a lot of atmospheric sound. The first one that we released, Walking Red. There’s parts that are in a bar. So lots of sound like layers of like-[CLIP]
Sara Pillatzki: People talking, ordering drinks, maybe some music, maybe some sort of glassware clinking or whatever. And I think that feels unique to just hitting record all at once and doing it live, but it’s been really fun. And then after you get to hear an interview with the playwright with one of our NNT staff, so that’s also really cool.
Leah Lemm: It’s just refreshing to hear those plays in audio form, because it does have that nostalgic quality of those old, old time radio plays that people would sit around their radio and listen to-
Sara Pillatzki: Yeah it so does.
Leah Lemm: Decades ago.
Sara Pillatzki: Yeah it so does. And they’re like, because they’re that 10 minutes, they’re just like a perfect little bite size. I’m going to walk to the post office. I’m going to listen while I walk it’s really a nice 10 minute invite that’s entertaining and fun and not too, too big of a time convention.
Leah Lemm: Yeah. Can you tell me about the one that is out now?
Sara Pillatzki: Yeah, so I was lucky enough to direct that piece. It’s called The Walking red and it was written by two wonderful Ojibwe playwrights, Jenn and Aj. And it’s kind of a zombie comedy about blood quantum and about a virus, not COVID because it was written before COVID, but about a virus that starts attacking the cities, Minneapolis, St. Paul, but the zombies don’t recognize mixed blood relatives. They only recognize full blood people. So they are getting like white people and Native people and everybody. But if you’re mixed, you’re kind of safe, kind of immune.
Sara Pillatzki: And so these two mixed blood friends, they joined together to help to get their Native friends out of the city to like stay or to one of them stays in the city to help. So it’s super funny. It’s an easy listen, but it’s also smart in how it’s talking about how we sometimes marginalize mixed relatives.
The audio plays can be found on New Native Theater’s website, newnativetheatre.org.
For Minnesota Native News. I’m Leah Lemm.