Theatre Department to Present Staged Reading of Dale Seeds’ Work

“Cards and Letters from the Dakota War” premiers this weekend at The College of Wooster

September 24, 2013 by John Finn

WOOSTER, Ohio — The College of Wooster’s Department of Theatre and Dance will present a staged reading of Dale Seeds’ original work, “Cards and Letters from the Dakota War” this weekend (Sept. 27-28) in Shoolroy Theatre, which is across the hall from Freedlander Theatre (329 E. University St.). Admission is free and open to the public, but tickets are required and must be picked up in advance at the box office.

Set against the backdrop of the U.S. Dakota War of 1862 — one of the shortest, most violent, complex, and least-known conflicts in American history — the reading chronicles the life of Annie Leseur, a young mixed-blood Dakota woman searching for fragments of her past. Assisted by her loving grandmother and a white graduate student researching frontier photography, Leseur discovers some things about her past that challenge who she thinks she is — things that somehow she will have to reconcile.

The play opens in 1862 with Apistoka, a young Dakota girl, and Benjamin Upton, who represent the subject and the photographer. “They are clearly important characters early in the play,” says Seeds. “As relative unknowns, the play can explore what might have happened rather that what history suggests happened to them.”

Seeds brings the play forward to the 21st century through the use of modern technology, which transforms Apistoka into a sort of spirit helper in cyberspace, taking Upton with her into the present day. Along the way she encounters other images and events that make up her legacy of the cards and letters from the war that are, in essence, the inheritance that she hopes to bring forward to her modern counterpart, Annie Leseur.

The cards and letters mentioned in the title refer to photographs of Dakota men and women taken during this period and the recently translated letters written by Dakota prisoners from 1863-1866. “Together,” says Seeds, “these become the fragments that Annie, our protagonist, discovers.”

Directed by Thomas Riccio of The University of Texas/Dallas, the reading features eight Wooster students: Andy House, Alexandra Dereix, Emma Nathanson, Kevin Glass, Stephany Rivera, Scott Wagner, Nora Yawitz, and Jake Beckstead. The stage manager is Audrey Platt and the lighting designer is Sidney Martin.

Additional information is available by phone (330-263-2241) or e-mail.