Theatre, like most art, is not just meant to entertain, but to provoke and push boundaries. It is a place to practice freedom of speech; a medium that can reflect our society and the human condition. It can pose difficult questions that can spark conversations that may not have been had otherwise. It can give voice to the unknown, the marginalized and the misunderstood by offering situations and characters that can speak freely in a medium with no restrictions. I aspire to make that kind of theatre with my writing, my composing, and my performing. I am inspired by untold stories of real people and real situations. I love bringing them to life on the stage and in music. I want to be truthful and write what I know. I want to write from a mother’s point of view, from a woman’s point of view, from a daughter’s point of view, from a wife’s point of view, from a tribal member’s point of view, and from someone of mixed heritage’s point of view. I want to tell those stories. I have lived so many lives and have been through so much that I am driven to share and help touch others or help revive others through my art wether that is a dramatic piece or a comedic piece. During COVID, I learned more than ever that theatre is medicine. With it we laugh, cry and get angry. In this rat race of life many of us don’t take time to feel. Theatre makes us feel.
As a songwriter, I have been told that my music is refreshing, “not typical musical theatre music”, and this is done intentionally. So many genres inspire me. I love to mix styles. I also want my music to not only work to tell the story, but to be poetic and catchy. I hate when I have a musical theatre album and I skip through tons of songs to get to the bops. I want my music to cross over. I want my music to be able to be played and someone not know it was from a musical theatre show, like the old standards (some of which were not just in a show, but also played on the radio). I believe that will bring new theatre goers to the theatre and make it more accessible to those who have not grown up with musical theatre. There is a place for all styles of music and all types of lyric writing in musical theater and it can still tell a story.
I am passionate about supporting new works from underrepresented artists. It want to lift other female artists up in this industry where we are so underrepresented and help create a community. I am a bit late to the game. I chose to put my career on hold and put my husband through medical school and then raise my daughters, one of which has special needs. I want to inspire other mothers in the arts and those who maybe think it is too late for them because they put their families first. I want to uplift and support women and their stories in our arts community as well as in my own writing. Women deserve to have the stories about them be from them.
My Native community is important to me. I strive to make a difference, somehow, in an industry where Natives are 1.5% of writers and are 0% represented in all other creative areas (AAPAC Visibility Report 2018/2019). I am currently developing nativetheatreartists.com in hopes of giving more visibility to North American Native theatre artists on Broadway and Off Broadway. I try to give back to my community by tripling 100% of my music streaming income and giving it all to Oklahoma Native Alliance Against Violence who works with my tribe as well as 20+ other tribes.
My show Savage the Musical, which I am currently rewriting, incorporates all of these things that are important to me as an artist. It is provocative and pushes boundaries. It is honest. It explores some of my Native American heritage and the obstacles Native women faced and still face. It is something many women can understand and relate to. It will definitely cause conversations. It also highlights my tribe, the Chickasaw's, dying language. We now have only 35 fluent speakers left. Savage will create a small capsule for the language. Wanda is a flawed character, but one which, despite her flaws, you want to root for. It holds a mirror up to our society to see how far we have come, or not. Savage the Musical speaks to the majority of Broadway ticket buyers, women in their 40s. It is relatable to all ethnicities, because Wanda, although Native American, faced the same thing many women experience: misogyny, abuse, sexism, and struggling being a single mom with a career. Although she is Native American, the themes are universal and very timely in our current climate. I am proud of Savage the Musical because it is just the kind of theatre I want to make and will continue to make in the future.