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Friday, June 2, 2023

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SDSU faculty and playwright, Randy Reinholz. SDSU faculty and playwright, Randy Reinholz.

Prestigious Festival Picks up Play

A Native American play by an SDSU faculty playwright will be produced at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.
By Lizbeth Persons Price

Alongside his work in the School of Theatre, Television, and Film, faculty member Randy Reinholz is the Producing Artistic Director and co-founder of theatre company Native Voices at the Autry, which develops and produces work exclusively written by Native American playwrights.

This year, Native Voices was named Resident Theatre Company at La Jolla Playhouse for the 2016-2017 season. Reinholz (who is Choctaw) will direct the residency’s first production, "They Don’t Talk Back" by Tlingit playwright Frank Henry Kaash Katasse, which runs from May 27 through June 5.

Though Reinholz is more-than used to directing new plays, he will participate in the development process as the playwright when his own play, Off the Rails, is premiered at the prestigious Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Ashland in July 2017.

Exploring American Indian boarding schools

"Off the Rails," which began as an adaptation of Shakespeare’s "Measure for Measure," is a historical tragicomedy that focuses on the seldom-explored topic of the American Indian Boarding School. Inspired by deep research that took him all the way to Genoa, Nebraska, Reinholz wrote the first draft of the play in 2013. It was subsequently developed and produced by Native Voices in Los Angeles during its 2014-15 season.

Bill Rauch, artistic director at Oregon Shakespeare Festival, will direct the play in Ashland with a cast of 14 actors, six of whom are Native American performers. For a regional theatre company to produce a play of this size and scope by a Native playwright is almost unprecedented. 

“The fact that 'Off the Rails' is the first script written by a Native American to be produced at Oregon Shakespeare Festival is noteworthy,” Reinholz said. “At a time when most big budget professional companies have never produced a show by a Native American writer, OSF is going ‘all in,’ daring to create a spectacular show, seeking to engage more than 20,000 patrons.”

Bringing best practices to SDSU

Beyond the excitement of both the size and historical significance of the production, "Off the Rails" will receive the benefit of professional input from top artists in American theatre — a dream for any playwright.

“To work with top professionals allows me to bring the best practices of the field to both SDSU production and course work,” Reinholz elaborated. “The TTF faculty is filled with many accomplished professionals, which gives SDSU graduates ready-made access to professional networks as they launch their own careers."

Off the Rails is scheduled to premiere at OSF Ashland in July 2017.

Reinholz will be present on Saturday, June 4 before the 8 p.m. performance for a pre-show discussion about his role as Artistic Director and his upcoming work as a playwright. For information and tickets, visit The La Jolla Playhouse website.