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DIVA NEWS ARCHIVE -- MARCH 2003


March 27, 2003

Nick Peters ROCKS!ROCKIN' THE AUTRY....WITH STYLE!!

Well, if you're not fortunate enough to be a Southern California based Arigon Starr fan -- you really missed a GREAT play ("The Buz'Gem Blues") and concert appearance this month. Nicholas Peters (looking very *dreamy* at the left) joined Arigon for a lively, rockin' acoustic set at the Autry's Heritage Court on Sunday, March 23rd.

Lots of Indian folks, friends and new fans came along to watch the Diva and Nick perform "Indian Land Forever," "Mountain Windsong," "Navajo Radio," "Junior Frybread" and about twenty-three other songs. Arigon added "Hickory Wind" to the set in honor of Country great Gram Parsons and Gram's pal Michael Horse. "I based my intepretation on the different versions of the song done by Gram, The Byrds, Emmylou Harris and Gary Bennett," said Arigon.

[If you want to read more about Gram Parsons, check out the most recent "Diva's Favorites" page which has lots of info and links about the legendary singer-songwriter.]

Rockin' the AutryNick chose to perform the Buck Owens and Beatles' classic "Act Naturally," which was very appropro considering it was Oscar Awards Day ["Might win an Oscar...you can never tell!'] -- and both he and Arigon are actors.

Folks in the audience were really enjoying the country-tinged sounds and Arigon's cheeky Indian jokes. "How can you spot the Indian guy? He's the one who's brown, round and greasy! AAAAAY!," she chortled. For those of you wondering, Arigon was wearing a Janet Miner original from a few seasons back. AAAY!

Autry Crowd!It was great to see folks like Saginaw Grant (the Sac & Fox actor who was so good in the recent PBS production of "Skinwalkers"),

Mark Miner (all the way from Oakland, CA!) and pals like Taloo Carillo and Candi Hersch (both with their kids in tow) digging the Arigon Starr set. Director Ian Skorodin (his film "Tushka" premiered at the 1998 Sundance Film Festival -- the same year as "Smoke Signals" and "Naturally Native") was also on hand, taping the set.

We hope to offer you some video clips as soon as Ian gets them to us. Y'all can pretend you were THERE! [You can spot Saginaw in the photo, plus Ian and Arigon's sister Gay who drove up from San Diego!]

As for "The Buz'Gem Blues," Arigon's understudy Mary Cordova took on the role of Martha Kakina for the last performance. However, Arigon did dazzle the crowd with her appearance during the last scene of the play in the role of a "Party Guest," which is where one would usually find Miss Cordova! She surprised the cast and director, who had no idea she was done with her musical set.

Michael with Arigon and familyArigon's family weren't the only ones raving about the play. The Los Angeles Times ran a terrific review which you can view here. [That's Michael Horse with Arigon's sister Gay, mom Ruth - and Arigon with her fake gray hair! Heck, she looks grayer than her mom! AAAAY!] Backstage West and NoHo News also ran positive reviews about the show. Audiences laughed loudly and applauded at the end of scenes -- much like in a TV sitcom. During some of the more heated action between Amos and Martha -- there were even cries of "No He Didn't" and "Oooohhh...." just like you'd hear on "Married With Children." AAAY!

The NoHo News had this to say about "The Buz'Gem Blues:"

[Reviewed by Don Grigware] Native Americans adorned our TV westerns during the '50s and no male child growing up at that time could pass through playtime without a good old-fashioned game of Cowboys and Indians. Tonto became as familiar a name as the Lone Ranger, but the American Indian never received -- and still has not -- the respect/admiration he deserves. But thanks to the Autry Museum of Western Heritage and Native Voices at the Autry, the Native American culture can at least be perceived and appreciated even if in a lighthearted matter in Drew Hayden Taylor's "The Buz'Gem Blues."

What makes this flawed comedy -- much like a TV sitcom -- about male-female relationships come alive is that it never takes itself that seriously. The Ojibways, the Mohawks , the Crees are all represented and dissected -- in fact, no one escapes Taylor's verbal massacre. In assessing one's place in the universe, one must accept one's identity and first and foremost, be a human being!

Director Randy Reinholz has assembled a genuinely delightful cast of actors. Leading the ensemble are Michael Horse as Amos and Arigon Starr as Martha. With her rubber facial expressions and sharp-tongued delivery, Starr can be counted on for quite a few chuckles, and Horse's natural gentleness commands the stage. He is not short on comedic flair either when he describes his dream of being buried in a can of Spam. Besides Horse and Starr, Robert Vestal as the "Warrior Who Never Sleeps" brings down the house with such proclamations as "Aboriginalism is my occupation and my heritage is my paycheck." And who can forget Miss Indian World (Yvonne Fisher)? After all, the judges sat six hours watching her weave a basket in the Talent Competition. Praise as well to Sandra Horse and Timothy Glenn as the Professor and Marianne (See what I mean about Sitcom-y?) and to Rebecca Spear as the overeager Summer with only 1/64th Indian Blood and to Blues musician Nicholas Spear.

To the White Man, age is a manufactured classification; to the Native American, it is eternal. Long live the Elders Conference and these Red Knights in Shining Buckskin!

As soon as Arigon gets her pictures back from the photo lab -- I'm sure we'll have more great photos to share with you. In the meantime, we hear Arigon is happy relaxing in Los Angeles and spending time with all the friends she neglected while doing the play! AAAY!


March 12, 2003

Robert Vestal SleepingPAGING THE WARRIOR WHO NEVER SLEEPS!

Actors are a funny bunch! At left, actor Robert Vestal relaxes during rehearsals. Robert portrays The Warrior Who Never Sleeps, a hardcore radical Indian dressed in a Canadian Mountie jacket. Here is an actual photo of the Warrior "napping." The Buz'Gem Blues has officially opened and audiences have been rolling in the aisles with laughter. It seems that non-Indian audiences may have had their first introduction to Native humor. Here's a quote about the play from one of Arigon's friends, Kym Mathias:

I went to see The Buz'Gem Blues last Thursday at the Gene Autry Museum (Griffith Park). It's got "hit" written all over it! It was soooooo funny! It's a play about NDN Looooove. Opening night was this past Saturday, which I know most of you wuz pow wowin' instead. Arigon Starr is in it and she does an excellent job. She plays an elder and her facial expressions are hilarious. I believe this is her first professional acting gig. All the actors though did a great job. This play is funny from beginning to end. And the setup is really cool. They have this guy with his guitar [Nicholas Spear] who sings the blues before the play and between each scene, the songs coinciding with the scene. So I guess what I'm trying to say is "GO SEE THIS PLAY!" It is at the Autry Museum Fri-Sun. through the end of this month. You can go to their website [http://www.autry-museum.org] or Arigon's website for details, times, price, etc.

Ok, that is all, you go now!

Kym

We couldn't have said it better ourselves. Heck, even Leonard Peltier's daughter Kathy was in the house and loved the show. Buz'Gem has something for everyone -- from Indian grandmas to Bingo to Star Trek. Reviews from the mainstream press are set to come out this week -- and we'll let you know how they enjoyed the show. See you on Friday or Saturday night at 8:00 PM -- or on Sunday at 2:00 PM. Buz'Gem ROCKS!



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