Native Americans Walk Out Of University Of Wyoming Musical Depicting Stereotypes

The walkout prompted criticism from UW's United Multicultural Council and a boycott by another summer camp. The Upward Bound group canceled plans to attend Saturday's performance the Department of Theater and Dance.

"The show especially demeans Native American cultures with outdated stereotypes of Native American appropriation by non-native actors wearing headdresses/warbonnets," according to a statement by the United Multicultural Council. "It also portrays Native American and Latino/Hispanic characters as the villains or antagonists of the show."

The university prepared a program insert for future performances explaining the scene.

"With historical productions, we see a 'point in time,' which is different from the one in which we live," the insert reads. "We see portrayals of characters that are painful to watch as 21st century audiences. The challenge then, in producing historical works, is to help audiences understand the context and/or story for the play without taking undue or illegal liberties with the script."

The long-running musical, a staple of regional, community and high school theater, plays in four different Wyoming communities this week before closing next weekend in Laramie. The musical, which features the songs "Try To Remember" and "Soon It's Gonna Rain," closed earlier this month in New York City, having played a total of 21,552 performances in the capital of American theater.

Tim Nichols, who helped set up the Native American Summer Institute, told The Boomerang that the content was unfortunate

"It's a 1960s play, but it was, in my view, inappropriate," he said. "We shared our concerns with the theater department and we shared our concerns with the students and, you know, we're OK."



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