Sunday, July 1, 2018

Manahatta—Oregon Shakespeare Festival—Ashland, OR

Heritage of Tears

    This eye-opening play is a World Premiere, written by Mary Kathryn Nagle and directed by Laurie Woolery.  It is playing at the Thomas Theatre in repertory through October 27th.  For more information, go to their site at

    Most things worth caring about often can come with pain and controversy.  This applies to birthing, obviously, even with a country.  Case in point, the European invasion of the Native American communities in the Americas, and their forced assimilation into our culture, even sans their Native language and customs.  History seems to prove that Man is cruel and greedy when it comes to having Power over others.  And so, in Manhattan, the Native American descendants must deal with the unfair, unwarranted and embarrassing mockery of justice and justification.  “Times, they are a-changin’.”

    It is a sad mark in our history and probably well-known that, according to the early years of our country, Manhattan was sold to the Dutch for a few trinkets, supplies and some wampum.  What was very mis-understood in this trade was that the Native Americans were not familiar with the concept of owning land, and so a war occurred and an ugly part of our history was forged.

    The story very smoothly travels back and forth in time in Manahatta/Manhattan, from the 17th century to the 21st century, with a cast of seven playing all the roles.  We explore the lives of these Lenape people of both ages.  There is present-day Jane (Tanis Parenteau), who is a whiz with numbers, lands a job on Wall Street (in a small way, reclaiming her heritage).  Her older sister, Debra (Rainbow Dickerson), has stayed at home in Oklahoma to care for their ailing Mother, Bobbie (Sheila Tousey), who has mortgage their home to the hilt and may be in danger of losing it.  They also are part of the Lenape tribe when the Dutch invaded their territory.

    The fourth Native American that travels in time, is Luke (Steven Flores), who has been adopted by the local choir director, Michael (David Kelly), and now works in his bank, as well, as a loan officer, friend of Jane’s but also a servant of the bank.  Michael also floats in time and is a pastor of the church, Jonas, in the Dutch community.  There are also two executives in the Wall Street firm, Joe (Danforth Comins), somewhat sympathetic to Jane, and Dick (Jeffrey King), a tiger when crossed in business.  They both are leaders in the Dutch colony.

    Their story swings back and forth, also, between parallel worlds and how they often intersect with each.  It is a complicated process, so won’t go into any more details, as it might just confuse you, but it is smoothly rendered on the stage.  One world is fortified in unyielding concrete and the other, a type of Garden of Eden, in which the Devil(s) raises its ugly head and they are forced to leave.
The actors are all excellent, with special kudos going to Tousey, as the wise mother of the clan.  Her calm demeanor and wise counsel are the heart of the story.  Woolery has a solid hold on this play, as she has kept the settings simple to let the tale speak for itself.

    I highly recommend this play.  If you do see it, please tell them Dennis sent you.

Dennis (reviewer), Laura (bar-keep), Greg (bar mgr.)
Dave (patron)
The Black Sheep

    As you might know, this is my favorite eating/imbibing place in town.  It features Brit food, in honor of the Bard’s time, and is even open late to indulge OSF patrons.  The food is exceptionally good and the company even better.  Greg, the bar manager, treats you like old friends and Laura is a delight as the elfin sprite of the pack.  Taylor is always jolly in her bearing and Dedra is the expert to ask on desserts.  You must try their homemade ice cream, something I believe they could package and sell on their own if they chose.  Many good dishes, drinks, staff and atmosphere.  I give it an A+, as I highly recommend it, and tell them if you go that Dennis sent you.  

See part of their joyous bunch in the enclosed pic. and go to their site at and look for the Red Door on the Plaza for a visit. 
“The place where you belong!”

No comments:

Post a Comment