New play tells story of Major Ridge, Trail of Tears
LOS ANGELES – A new play opened in Hollywood on Feb. 10 that focuses on the life of Major Ridge – a respected, early 19th century Cherokee leader who played a pivotal role in Cherokee Nation history.
“Not One More Foot Of Land!” written by Art Shulman and directed by Kristina Lloyd is playing through April 1 at the Secret Rose Theater at 11246 Magnolia Blvd. in north Hollywood. Shows are at 8 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. on Sundays.
Shulman said his story is based on the true story of Major Ridge and the Trail of Tears. Some Cherokees today consider Ridge one of the most controversial Cherokees who ever lived. He was highly respected warrior in his early life that strongly advocated protecting Cherokee land.
When he became older, he realized it was losing proposition to save Cherokee lands in the east and joined other Cherokee leaders in 1835 when they signed away what remained of the tribe’s lands.
“I am technically an outsider to Native American culture, without much prior exposure to Native Americans. But I’ve learned a lot from those associated with the production, as well as from my research,” Shulman said. “The Native American actors don’t treat me as an outsider. They are appreciative that a play has been written about how Native Americans were treated back then, not just the Cherokee, but many other tribes as well.”
Shulman added the play could not have been done without the contributions of many people including Hanay Geiogamah of the University of California at Los Angeles Department of Theater who was once head of the school’s Indian Studies Department.
Geiogamah is an expert in Indian performance art and helped fashion the script using Cherokee customs and other elements, Shulman said. He also acknowledged Lloyd’s direction of the play, which includes 18 actors – most playing multiple roles.
The play has about 50 short scenes and spans 50 years.
“It has been more than a little nerve-wracking, with all the elements inserted into the play – light and sound cues, costume changes and so on,” Shulman said. “More than half the actors are Native Americans, and about half of those are Cherokee. We have a terrific group.”
Tickets are $22. For senior citizens they are $17, and student tickets are $10. For reservations and more information, call 818-782-4252 or visit secretrose.com