On a much smaller scale is another great play called Rez Road Follies. It's a one-man show starring Joe Johnson, who also plays Leonard Peltier in Turtle Island Blues.
Rez Road Follies is a humorous and thought-provoking romp through forty short stories and poems featuring Luke Warmwater as a central character. Luke is a Vietnam veteran who has survived the war but is "having trouble surviving the peace" on a reservation where everyone is broke and where the tribal government seems to work against the interests of the people who choose to live there.
Throughout Rez Road Follies, it is the humor that holds people and their community together.
The play was written by Jim Northrup, who adapted the play from his book, Walking the Rez Road. As Northrup puts it, "I was born at a very early age in the government hospital on the Fond Du Lac Reservation." At the age of six he was ordered to attend a federal boarding school away from his family. And for his secondary education he was sent to a Christian boarding school in Hot Springs, South Dakota. He later served in the Marine Corps for six years and made tour duty through Vietnam.
Northrup, his wife Patricia, and their family live the traditional life of a Anishinabe (Ojibwe/Chippewa) on the Fond du Lac reservation in northern Minnesota. His stories have been featured in anthologies such as Stillers Pond (New Rivers Press), while his poetry has appeared in numerous literary magazines.
"Northrup lays down, in a clean and simple line, the life he and his fellow Fond du Lac Chippewa have lived, illuminating his corner of the world in a way that achieves universality."
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JOE JOHNSON was born and raised on the Red Lake Reservation. He became involved with theater in 1992 when the actor cast for the role of Leonard Peltier in Bill Borden's Turtle Island Blues decided not to take the role. Since then he's played the role in thirty-four performances throughout Minnesota and North Dakota. Joe has also played the Bingo Master in Tomson Highway's Rez Sisters. Joe's day job is at Bemidji State University.
GREG GASMAN is a director and actor in northern Minnesota. Currently, he is Artistic Director for the Listening Winds Theatre as well as for the Headwaters Players. Both theaters are home- based out of Bemidji, Mn. Greg is the director of Turtle Island Blues along with Rez Road Follies, and he's also a darn good actor.
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If anyone is interested in either of these plays, please contact me (Judi) at the e-mail address below, and I'll give you more information.
Copyright ©1997 Judi Schiller, Richard Schiller
April 23, 1997