When YANA WANA’S LEGEND OF THE BLUEBONNET opens on March 23 at Dallas Children’s Theater(DCT), it will mark the first time that the first people of Texas have been celebrated on a mainstage for their contribution to our nation’s history. The legacy of the Coahuiltecans(kwah-wheel-teh-kuhns) who originated in Texas more than 14,000 years ago has virtually been erased, but a co-production of Dallas Children’s Theater and Cara Mía Theatre Company, puts their presence and their contributions front and center. Through a limited engagement, historians, researchers, anthropologists, sociologists and others will have five performances to experience stories of the first people to have blessed the Texas lands, seen bluebonnets and created instruments and music from our Southwest region’s precious natural resources.
In a beautiful tale that illustrates the power of ancestry and the value of one’s own story, YANA WANA’S LEGEND OF THE BLUEBONNET reminds us of the role we play in helping our neighbor; the responsibility we have to preserve our lands and precious resources like water; and the importance of remembering our ancestors. Ten-year-old María is having trouble in school, so her mom sends her to stay with her Coahuiltecan grandmother in distant Laredo for discipline and perspective. There, María is told an ancient story of young Yana Wana who followed a revered deer to find water to save her people. Yana Wana’s story exposes an amazing and unknown ancestral connection to the bluebonnet that gives María a renewed sense of self and family pride. You may have read one version in school; now we invite you to come see the legend through the eyes of Yana Wana in this world premiere.
The 28-member cast and design team, all indigenous except five, are excited and honored to be a part of such a landmark production that gives voice to an ancient language. They are inspired by the thoughtful and in-depth research that has been undertaken to use the limited references available to create what will now be a permanent part of history. Composer Héctor Martínez Morales used a dictionary that was published in 1940 that he found at the Smithsonian Institution to help him create the music; costume designer Frida Espinosa Müller read about the nomadic first Indians and studied the colors and symbols important to the ancestors to design the costumes, and choreographer Fernando Hernandez is excited to be bringing forth the spirit of the first people’s sacred ceremony through dance.
Playwright Roxanne Schroeder-Arce says when Dallas Children’s Theater’s Executive Artistic Director Robyn Flatt reached out to her three years ago about this idea, she was humbled. As the relative of someone who is an Elder of the Miakan-Garza Band of the Coahuiltecan people, she sought counsel from this resource with regard to what she considered a great responsibility, a great calling. Schroeder-Arce shared, “It meant the world to me to be given permission to tell their story. It has become like a precious child to me, and I’m grateful for the journey of bringing it from its early stages to what I’m seeing now.” She said being a part of the first rehearsal was awe-inspiring. “The energy in the room was undeniable. To see people of color preparing to take the stage together to share a part of their own personal story – one in some cases that has been silenced in their own families over a message of assimilation – was truly a watershed moment. I am confident that everyone will take something away from this experience,” she said.
Schroeder-Arce’s primary script resource, María F. Rocha, became such an advisor to the project that Flatt and Schroeder-Arce decided that she should have the credit as playwright, too. So now, Rocha, who is also the executive director of Indigenous Cultures Institute in San Marcos, is co-playwright with her daughter. Rocha hopes that American Indians as well as indigenous people who are labeled as Mexican American, Hispanic, and Latino, and all people will appreciate this important story. She said, “Our Native children can now hear their own story of the first bluebonnets in Texas. It brings tears to my eyes to know that our children will see themselves and their ancestors on stage, telling an ancient story that reflects their culture and actually belongs to them.”
Executive Artistic Director Robyn Flatt has always had a deep respect for the first people and has admired their ability to persevere despite the daunting and unfair obstacles placed before them. She said, “I have quietly wanted to be a part of telling this story for a long time, but as a White woman, I was not sure how to make it happen. I credit Larissa FastHorse, an award-winning Native American playwright and choreographer who encouraged me to move forward. She told me that everyone else has a book or reference point to advance their story, but indigenous people will be forgotten without allies who are interested in collaborating to tell these important stories from our Native American’s history which is truly the history of all of us.” Flatt said that message of inspiration gave her the resolve she needed to pursue the project.
Flatt’s next decision was to enlist longtime friend and respected colleague David Lozano of Cara Mía Theatre Co. to join the project as co-producer. Lozano says that this effort is a perfect example of how a “mainstream” theater company can bring together people from all backgrounds to produce a culturally-specific work. According to Lozano, "The power of this collaboration is that both companies are truly listening to each other and respecting each other's vantage point. I'm very inspired to tell this story together, bridging each of our respective communities, building new audiences for both companies and having a real impact. This would not be possible if either organization tried to do this work on their own.” Lozano observed that Cara Mía brings a strong cultural understanding of Latino/Mexican/Indigenous cultures experience while DCT’s experience in the children/family/education space is unmatched.
Funding for this project came from Bloomberg Philanthropies, the TACA Donna Wilhelm Family New Works Fund and DCT longtime friends and supporters, Diana and Thomas Klein. Everyone is excited that the production is being evaluated for national distribution and inclusion in historic annuals.
Tickets for this limited engagement production range from $15-$28 and can be purchased at dct.org or by calling 214-740-0051. Please note the specific public show dates for this limited engagement production:
Friday, March 23 at 7:30PM
Sunday, March 25 at 1:30PM
Saturday, April 7 at 1:30PM
Sunday, April 8 at 1:30PM
Sunday, April 8 at 4:30P (ASL)
There is also a special performance available for children and families with sensory-sensitivities. Tickets for this performance on Saturday, March 24 at 1:30PM are $5 and are only available by calling 214-740-0051.
Free and supporting events
The following free and supporting community conversations are being curated by co-producing partner Cara Mía Theatre Company. All events will be held at Dallas Children’s Theater.
March 24, 2018, 3:00 PM Conversation Circle #2:
THE HEALING POWER OF FAMILY TRADITIONS AND CULTURAL PRACTICES
Purpose: To understand how family traditions and cultural practices teach love, respect and cultivate renewal for individuals and communities.
Action: A panel of indigenous leaders will share examples of cultural practices that strengthen values for quality living that can apply to non-indigenous participants. Participants will have the opportunity to make parallels to their own family traditions that fortify their positive values.
April 7, 2018, 3:00 PM Conversation Circle #3:
THE SACREDNESS OF WATER FROM INDIGENOUS AND SCIENTIFIC PERSPECTIVES
Purpose: To learn more about conditions of water on our planet and worldwide efforts to protect water. We will explore the significance of water through the lens of science and indigenous thought and discuss ways our local community can respond to oncoming challenges regarding water in the near future.
YANA WANA’S LEGEND OF THE BLUEBONNET By Roxanne Schroeder-Arce and María F. Rocha; Music by Héctor Martinez Morales (Recommended for ages 6 and up)
Dallas Children’s Theater
Rosewood Center for Family Arts
5938 Skillman Street
Dallas, Texas 75231
Ticket Prices: $15-$28 for single tickets.Prices subject to change.Group rates available for parties of 10 or more. Phone reservations required for sensory-friendly performances. Call the Box Office for details, 214-740-0051. General tickets are available online at dct.org
Weekday Student Matinee shows also available Tuesdays through Fridays. Call Dallas Children's Theater at 214-978-0120 or visit dct.org/fieldtrips
- María: Rosalinda Olivares
- María’s Mother / Ancestor: Mindamora Rocha*
- Abuela: Cecilia Flores*
- Teacher / Ancestor / Librarian: Mark Quach**
- Consuelo / Ancestor: Tiffany Solano DeSena*
- Tcakei / Ancestor: Edwin Aguilar
- Chief / Ancestor: Joey Castorena
- The Deer / dance captain: Fernando Hernandez*
- Ancestor / The Deer alternate: Omar Padilla
- Ancestor / Lead Singer: Adolfo Becerra**
- Ancestor / Kis: Karla Gonzalez
- Ancestor / Yana Wana’s Mother / Lead Singer: Gazelle Garcia
- Yana Wana / Ancestor: Jennifer Reyna and Remi Swan
- Matzán / Asawan: Eva Harris and Kitty Coderre
- Cultural Advisor / Musician: Evelio Flores
- Abuela understudy: Priscilla Rice
- Ancestor understudy: Robyn Flatt*
- Director: Robyn Flatt
- Composer: Héctor Martínez Morales
- Musical Director: S-Ankh Rasa
- Choreographer: Fernando Hernandez
- Scenic Designer: Scott Osborne
- Lighting Designer: Linda Blase
- Props Designer: Josh Smith
- Sound Designer: Marco Salinas
- CostumeDesigner: Frida Espinosa Müller
- Stage Manager: Dwight Sandell*
*Denotes member of Actors Equity Association. **Denotes Equity membership candidate.
2017-18 Season Sponsors are: Texas Instruments, City of Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs, TACA, Anonymous Family, The Shubert Foundation, and The Carlson Foundation. General Sponsors Include: The Rosewood Corporation, Melinda & Jim Johnson, The Eugene McDermott Foundation, The Theodore and Beulah Beasley Foundation, Inc., Carl B. & Florence E. King Foundation, March Family Foundation, Maintenance, Inc./Maintenance, Inc. of America. Additional Support is Provided By: Texas Commission on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts, Legacy Texas Bank, Frost Bank, Orien Levy Woolf & Dr. Jack Woolf Charitable Trust, The Graham & Carolyn Holloway Foundation, Stephen M. Seay Foundation, TXU Energy, Karen & Jim Wiley, Green Mountain Energy, DCT's official renewable energy partner. Sensory-Friendly Sponsors Include: The Crystal Charity Ball, Bank of America, Anonymous Foundation, The Aileen and Jack Pratt Foundation, W.P. &BulahLuse Foundation. DCT's National Touring Sponsor is Neiman Marcus.
About Dallas Children’s Theater
Dallas Children’s Theater features professional actors performing for an annual audience of 250,000 young people and their families through mainstage productions (11 in the 2017-18 season), a national -touring company, and an arts-in-education program. As the only major organization in Dallas focusing solely on youth and family theater, DCT builds bridges of understanding between generations and cultures, instilling an early appreciation of literature, art, and the performing arts in tomorrow’s artists and patrons.
About Cara Mia Theatre Company
Founded in 1996, Cara Mía Theatre Co. is a non-profit theatre company that presents live accessible theatre by producing critically acclaimed published plays and creating new and experimental works while developing innovative and educational youth arts programming reflective of the Latino experience in the U.S.