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December 17, 2010

"Green Grow the Lilacs" at NMAI

Last month, the museum hosted a production of Green Grow the Lilacs by the late Cherokee dramatist Lynn Riggs. The play, which was later made into the hit musical Oklahoma!, was performed by the U.S. Naval Academy’s theater troupe, the Masqueraders.

Riggs (1899-1954) was the only American Indian dramatist writing for the Broadway stage at the beginning of the 20th century. As a child of the Cherokee Nation, he witnessed the rapid transformation of his community when, in 1907, Indian Territory became Oklahoma, the 46th state in the union. This childhood experience inspired Green Grow the Lilacs, a Pulitzer Prize-nominated drama about the Cherokee Nation’s struggle to endure the social upheaval and forced migration of the early 1900s.

“The tension in this play is not between cowboys and farmers, as it is in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s musical version,” said Christy Stanlake, director of the Naval Academy Theatre and a Native American theater scholar (Click here to read a Q&A with Stanlake about Riggs). “Rather, it is between Cherokee community-based ways of life and the way of life that is infiltrating Indian Territory as non-Native people come into the region. Literally, the Cherokee community is being overrun by the ideals of Manifest Destiny.”

For those of you who couldn't attend the performances, the museum's Media Initiatives Department filmed the entire production. Enjoy!

 

 

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Comments

As a child of the Cherokee Nation, he witnessed the rapid transformation of his community when, in 1907, Indian Territory became Oklahoma, the 46th state in the union. This childhood experience inspired Green Grow the Lilacs, a Pulitzer Prize-nominated drama about the Cherokee Nation’s struggle to endure the social upheaval and forced migration of the early 1900s.

Nice drama and great story. I just heard the same issues before on how the Oklahoma state was form and how the people was force to migrate. There are no wonder why they was nominated in the prestige of Pulitzer Prize.

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