This year’s Homecoming Musical ‘Curtains’ includes murder mysteries, dance numbers and shows about Kickapoo Native Americans played by white actresses.
Based on a book written by Rupert Holmes, “Curtain” made its first debut in 2007 with music by Jon Kander. It has since been nominated for several awards, according to playbill.com. The stage is the 1950s.
in an interview with preliminary reportDirector and Associate Professor of Communications and Theater Pete Rydberg explained that the scene features a “show within a show” called “Kansasland” based on the musical “Oklahoma.” The character known as Bambi in “Curtains” is an actress who plays the character Princess Kickapoo. Kickapoo characters have a dance number in the Kansasland performance.
Denise Rowe, a Native American, winner of the Kansas State Poets Award 2006-2008, and professor at Haskell Indian Nations College, felt the scene encouraged stereotypes that were unacceptable for other races. I’m here.
“Will they do this with the Jews?” Lowe said. “Will they do this to African Americans? Can you say or imagine? That would be unacceptable.”
However, Rydburg defended the decision.
“Certainly, some would find it incredibly difficult to imagine a scenario in which indigenous representations would be caricatured in this way,” said Rydburg. and is not acceptable.
But it is a commentary on historical and unacceptable representation. ”
Lydberg said he made slight changes to the lines and the visual representation of Princess Kickapoo. The character does not wear a headdress or face paint during the scene.
“As far as corrections go, I would say the only corrections I’ve made are in the score,” Rydburg said. “When Bambi is playing Kickapoo, she lets out a roar like ‘Whoo, hoo, hoop’ as she enters. And I didn’t find it useful. ”
But Lowe says these changes are “disadvantageous” for Native Americans today.
“For example, I really appreciate the people who worked diligently to get rid of the warhoops,” Rowe said. “But perpetuating stereotypes in the play doesn’t serve Native people. It’s not for Native people, it’s for white people.”
Freshman psychology major Sarah McDonald is a white actress who plays Bambi. She said MacDonald had concerns about the scene at first.
“I grew up in Flagstaff, Arizona, so I grew up surrounded by Native American reservations,” MacDonald said. “And this is definitely not something I do in my personal life. This is how theater works in the 1950s.”
Before the musical begins, land clearances are granted to allow the removal of Native Americans. Rydburg said the land clearance is given before every show at ESU.
“I appreciate the fact that they have educated themselves enough to do land grants,” Lowe said. Otherwise they are empty words.”
Performances of “Curtain” take place Thursday, Friday, Saturday at 7:30 pm and Sunday at 2:00 pm at the King Hall of the Carl C. Bruder Theater.