Native American Artists Will Protest Minneapolis Production of Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson

News   Native American Artists Will Protest Minneapolis Production of Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson
 
Minneapolis Musical Theatre's production of Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, the Michael Friedman-Alex Timbers emo-rock musical about America's controversial seventh president, opens June 6 in Minnesota. New Native Theatre, a company that tells Native American stories on stage, will protest the production.

Benjamin Walker
Benjamin Walker Photo by Joan Marcus

According to a Facebook event entitled "Flash Round Dance & Sing-in at Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson Premiere," New Native supporters are encouraged to show up at the New Century Theatre at 6 PM and "come with your regalia, hand-drums, guitars, literature, signs, and flyers to stand together… Our goal is to inform theatre goers about this problematic play and to show the vibrancy and strength of our Native community and its allies."

The Facebook event states, "The play dehumanizes Native Americans and distorts history about President Andrew Jackson and the Trail of Tears. He's portrayed as a 'sexy-pants' rockstar while slurs against Native people go unchallenged."

In an open letter to the Minnesota Playlist, New Native founder and playwright Rhiana Yazzie writes that the Bloody Bloody script "reinforces stereotypes and leaves me assaulted, manipulated and devastatingly used as a means to a weak and codependent end."

"It's taken four years for any company in the Twin Cities to approach this offensive play since it debuted in New York in 2010," she continued. "But soon it will be performed and the character Andrew Jackson written by Alex Timbers and J. Michael Freedman will spew unchallenged racial epithets five times a week on soil that is still yet recovering from our own troubled history. Soil where blood has been spilled and land has been taken and people have been shoved aside. There is nothing about this history that is 'all sexy pants,' to quote the marketing machine that accompanied this show. The truth is that Andrew Jackson was not a rockstar and his campaign against tribal people - known so briefly in American history textbooks as the 'Indian Removal Act' is not a farcical backdrop to some emotive, brooding celebrity. Can you imagine a show wherein Hitler was portrayed as a justified, sexy rockstar?"

Yazzie continues to explain the work's flaws in her open letter. Following a sold-out run at Public LAB in 2009, Bloody Bloody returned to The Public for a full main stage production and opened to acclaimed reviews on April 6, 2010. It received an Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Off-Broadway Musical and a Drama Desk Award for Best Book of a Musical. The musical opened on Broadway Oct. 13, 2010.

"I think people are going to see the horrific things that Jackson did," MMT's director Steven Meerdink said in an interview with vita.mn.com. "I know that doesn't make it easier for a population that was horribly treated."

MMT has not yet responded to Playbill.com's request for comment on the impending protest.

For more information on the production, which run through June 29 at the New Century Theatre in Minneapolis, click here.

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