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Indigenous Performance

The examination of three Indigenous contemporary plays, Jacobson and the Kiowa Five by Russ Tall Chief, Salvage by Diane Glance and Manahatta by Mary Kathryn Nagle seeks to contribute to understanding the range of expressive dimensions of borderlands and migrations found in Indigenous performance.  These dimensions are ever-changing metaphoric and literal spaces that reinforce Indigenous ways of knowing, constitute enactments of indigenous knowledge production and distinguishes indigenous performance in dynamic ways apart from western practices. Borderlands spaces and migrations occur in Indigenous performance as unrestricted expressions that intrinsically challenge and resist colonial practices found in contemporary western theatre.  In the context of these discourses, indigenous performance is an enactment of sovereignty that upends the political, geographical, historical, social, cultural and genocidal constructs that have attempted to shape and reshape indigeneity on this continent for over 500 years. 


Sarah dAngelo, Project Director and Scholar

T. Russ Tall Chief, Media Consultant

Sarah dAngelo is a professional theatre artist and educator. She holds an MFA in Theatre Performance from the University of Montana. She has directed and performed in theatres across the country as well as in film, television and voice-overs. She served in the School of Theatre at Oklahoma City University from 2010-2016 and was recently appointed as an Assistant professor in the Theatre Arts and Performance Studies program at Brown University.  Her creative and scholarly interests center on creating space in the American Theatre for under-represented voices, non-western performance practices and the production of contemporary Native American Theatre. She is passionate about theatre-making that is inclusive of voices historically overlooked in the U.S. She is especially drawn to performances that resist cultural stereotypes, re-present U.S. history and reveal the interwoven dimensions of storytelling through cultural literacy, multi-media and interdisciplinary inquiry. dAngelo is also a professional voice and dialect coach and has coached professional and academic productions throughout the region. She is a proud member of the professional actor unions, the Actor’s Equity Association and The Screen Actors Guild /American Federation of Television and Radio Artist. 

T. Russ Tall Chief (Osage) is the Director of Student Engagement, Inclusion, and Multicultural Programs at Oklahoma City University. Tall Chief began his career at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian in New York City in 1994.  He worked in the Education and Public Affairs Offices of the museum’s New York facility while the Washington, DC, facility was under construction.  Tall Chief has published writing about Native art and culture in the U.S., and served as the Art Galleries’ Editor for Native Peoples Magazine. In his creative work, Tall Chief is a playwright and dancer with performance credits throughout the U.S., most recently participating in productions during the New Native American Play Festival, presented annually by the Oklahoma City Theatre Company during the spring.  As a curator of Native arts, Tall Chief has organized numerous exhibitions throughout the U.S. and most recently and notably organizing four Native art exhibitions in Paris, where he was also the featured dancer at the Grand Palais, Orenda Gallery, and the Center for American Arts in Paris.  Tall Chief is currently writing a book about his great-aunts, renowned Osage ballerinas Maria and Marjorie Tall Chief.