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This fall the Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College (NEO) Fine Arts Department in collaboration with the American Indian Center for Excellence will partner with renowned playwright Dr. JudyLee Oliva to present the world premiere of Call of the River, a play chronicling the removal of over 40 Native American Tribes from their indigenous lands. Due to mature themes, this production will be most appropriate for audiences over the age of 12. Public performances will be Oct. 2 and 3 at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, Oct.4 at 2 p.m. Ticket prices are $8 for adults, $6 for seniors and $4 for children and students. Admission is free for NEO students, faculty and staff with ID.

Call of the River is at once epic in scope and also deeply personal. NEO students, faculty, staff, and community members have collaborated with the playwright on the exploration of this new and exciting script, creating an emotional retelling of historical events and their lasting effects. NEO Technical Director and Call of the River’s Director, Ben Whaley said, “This has been a truly once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our cast. Dr. JudyLee Oliva provided us with a beautiful draft copy of the script, and the students have had a chance to offer ideas, suggestions, feelings, and responses to update the script. Dr. Oliva’s willingness to listen to the wisdom of our students in collaboration with her own creative genius has resulted in this important and beautiful work.”

The script chronicles the experiences of more than 40 tribes – instead of trying to provide details and facts for each and every tribe, the script explores themes that would be common to any people removed from their homeland – loss, betrayal, fear, anger, and ultimately, hope. “The script doesn’t attempt to lay blame or point fingers,” Whaley said. “Instead, it offers a glimpse through the window of those tribes’ experiences. It offers a chance for the audience to bear witness to the stories that were not included in the history books. These are the real stories.”

Following the premiere performance on Oct. 2, the audience will be invited to participate in a panel discussion with Oliva, Whaley, and Claudia Little Axe, the executive director of the American Indian Center for Excellence.  Additionally, those wishing to learn more about the playwright’s inspiration for this work and many others can attend a Humanities Forum on Saturday, Oct. 4 at 12 p.m. in the Community Room at Chapter’s Bookstore. Reservations can be made for the Humanities Forum by leaving a message at 918.540.6336. For more information, contact Ben Whaley at 918-540-6336.


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