A commercial production of Indian Joe, a new theatrical piece created and conceived by Tony and Drama Desk Award nominee Elizabeth A. Davis (Once), is currently in the works following recent development as part of New York Stage & Film’s Fall Series.
The musical features a book, music and lyrics by Davis with additional book by Chris Henry, and additional music and orchestrations by Luke Holloway and Jason Michael Webb.
Directed by Emmy Award winner Don Scardino, Indian Joe featured Gary D. Farmer (Smithsonian Lifetime Achievement Award Winner for Native American Film & TV and a member of Six Nations tribe) as the title role, Joe, with Davis as Liz.
The piece was first seen at The Cherry Lane Mentor Project, mentored by Tony winner Enda Walsh, and was workshopped at The Cleveland Play House’s New Ground Festival & The Rhinebeck Writer’s Retreat. Indian Joe was seen at The Goodspeed Opera House via The Johnny Mercer Colony and had a full production at the Norma Terris Theatre.
Here’s how the work is billed: “A Native American man looking for a fight, a Caucasian woman looking for a cause, and the African American man who has them both pegged. Indian Joe, an American musical based on true events, takes us from the streets of Waco to the streets of NYC. It investigates ownership, land and identity. It asks ‘where is home?’ or most acutely, ‘who is our home?’ and how high is the price to find the answer. The Progressive Folk sound of Indian Joe weaves soulful, acoustic instrumentation with strains of industrial pop along this powerful journey of overcoming racial prejudice and fear to find family.”
The show, Davis says, was written because a real person named Joe Lightfoot Gonzales lived, struggled, and changed her life. More information about his real life (including a link to give to his endowment) can be found at IndianJoeTheMusical.com.
“Indian Joe is the process of a woman discovering she is plagued with White Savior Syndrome and blinding co-dependency,” Davis adds. “But the tension between apathy and trying so hard you can’t see straight is still worth going through. Otherwise, we live in paralysis. Mainly, I think this show has something extremely important to say in the midst of our current social climate. We have to shore ourselves up over and over and try to listen no matter how hard it is. We’ll never create lasting change if we don’t.”
Tim Acito and Kim Weild have been part of the development of Indian Joe, and the women who have guided the show include Bridgette Wimberly, Angelina Fiordellisi, optioning commercial producer Carolyn Rossi Copeland, Kathy Evans, Donna Lynn Hilton, and Johanna Pfaelzer.