TULSA - Tulsa's Heller Theatre Company did something in its 2017-18 season that had never been done in our city's history. Their entire lineup consisted of locally written plays.
They continue that tradition this season, and Friday they'll open a double feature. It consists of two one-act plays... one of which delves into a little-known part of Oklahoma history, and the other which takes a unique look at the modern problem of immigration along the southern border.
David Blakely is playwright in residence for the Heller Theatre Company. His work "Four Ways to Die" won four TATE awards last year, including Outstanding Original Work. TATE stands for Tulsa Awards for Theatre Excellence.
His new work is called "Trade Privileges." It's set in Oklahoma when it was still Indian Territory, before the Civil War.
His characters include historic figures Christian Wells, founder of Wellston, Oklahoma, and John Cohia, whose nicknames included “Gopher John” and “Horse John,” a freedman of the Seminole Nation.
The other play, "Niñas de la Tierra," written and directed by Shadia Dahlal, takes place in modern times.
“It deals with a woman and her child crossing the southern border,” she told KRMG. “It is mainly in the style of magical realism, and as somebody described it it is a ‘cuento,’ which is a Mexican folktale.”
The characters include an Aztec goddess, border patrol agents, and an evil iguana who rapes and kills women in the desert.
The flora and fauna of the desert also have voices, and become characters in the play.
"Double Feature” will play at Nightingale Theater, 1416 E. 4th Street in Tulsa, on April 19, 20, 26 and 27. All performances start at 7:30 p.m.
(Editor’s note: Shadia Dahlal’s husband is KRMG reporter Russell Mills)