“Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson” is more than a history lesson.
The punk rock musical opens Theatre NDSU’s 2015-16 season, reopening history books to the pages often left unexamined. In a show bursting with lights and music, the story offers an opening to look at the genocides, bloodshed and heartbreak of indigenous people in the U.S.
And for director Chelsea Pace, the theater is prime for that.
“Bloody, Bloody” is a show, she said, that brings the opportunity to “be irreverent and question historical icons or events or institutions in general.”
“There’s been thousands and thousands and thousands of indigenous people who have been wiped out,” Pace said. “With this production, we have an opportunity to put some of the less comfortable facts up onstage and hopefully start a community dialogue.”
The dialogue is one that isn’t new.
By a 4-1 vote, the Fargo City Commission abolished Columbus Day in favor of annually observing Indigenous Peoples Day the second Monday in October.
For Pace, the coincidence of the commission’s approval of Theatre NDSU’s production is no coincidence at all.
“About 12 members of the cast including myself were at the city (commission) meeting … on what is now Indigenous Peoples Day in Fargo,” she said, adding that the area’s indigenous community has been working for years to receive the recognition and respect “they need and deserve.”
But “Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson” is not just another show, she added.
NDSU’s theater department has been looking for ways to support indigenous performance traditions, as well as work with tribal colleges and provide support to create more work and raise further awareness.
“Part of the mission of Theatre NDSU is to be a part of our community, to reach out and serve the needs of our community,” Pace said. “If we’re doing theater for social change … it has to live longer, it has live outside the bounds of it and if the smallest impact that this piece has is that 22 undergrads here at NDSU leave after closing night knowing a lot more about the history of the country that they live in … that’s a significant impact in a community.”
But the musical’s impact can go deeper, Pace added.
For everyone who sees the show’s visual history installation in Askanase Hall’s lobby, and for every “butt in a seat,” Pace said, the impact is lasting, bringing this “educational funk to the stage.”
“This is not an easy show to watch,” she said. “You find yourself laughing at things you know shouldn’t be laughing about.”
IF YOU GO:
Theatre NDSU’s “Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson” at 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 22-23, 28-31 at NDSU’s Askanase Auditorium Call 701-231-7969 for tickets and info
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