McKnight Fellow in Playwriting Rhiana Yazzie is workshopping TWO plays at the Playwrights' Center this week. She's working on Matachanna with director Hayley Finn; composer Leah Lemm; and actors Tracey Maloney*, Maeve Moynihan, and Roseanne Supernault*. Then she is developing her Nancy Reagan play with director Maren Ward and actors Roseanne Supernault* and Maggie Bearmon Pistner. (*Member of Actors' Equity Association.) A mini-interview with Rhiana:
What were you like as a kid?
Over the weekend my dad took me out to the rez and we rode horses. I got to sit in front while he kicked his sneakers against the side of a white horse with a gray mane and tail. It took off so fast my little captain’s hat flew off. I told this story at show-and-tell on Monday. Reliving the story in front of my classmates was even more exciting than the original ride. That kid who had a thousand stories and never hesitated to tell them is the best I ever remember being and is my compass for knowing who I really am.
Finish this sentence: If I weren’t a playwright I would be...
…a fashion designer, illustrator or possibly an astrophysicist. These occupations would complete the work that my dad started. In our home in every clear corner of the house lay paints, charcoals, chalks, canvases, and thick cellulose fibers of sketch pads. My drawings of people and clothing lived with my dad’s airbrushed scenes, and scraps of fabric from hand sewn doll clothes. Everything mingled with the stories of star facts my dad would feed me after each of his astronomy classes thanks to the GI Bill.
You’ve been working in film lately; how has that differed from working in theater?
It’s surprisingly satisfying. I love color, texture, patterns, lines, light, and the photographic image of the human face. The powerful pairing of image with script always surprises me. Coming from a community that doesn’t often see itself reflected back in glorious 360, I’ve been interested in how the subtlety of character is captured in frames of film in perpetuity, and not just for a few weekends.