Pillsbury House Theatre’s production of Marcus Gardley’s the road weeps, the well runs dry might be over now, but Twin Cities communities are still ablaze in conversation about it.
“Minneapolis/St. Paul is desperate for these stories,” said Dr. Kathleen DeVore, a professor of English at Minneapolis Community and Technical College. “We are stuck in unhealthy racially divided and ignorant spaces, so we’re desperate for these stories that haven’t been getting told.”
The show ran September 27 through October 27, to mostly full houses. Alan Berks, Director of Communications at Pillsbury House, said that, “Around 2,300 people saw the play. It’s a little early to have demographic breakdown but it looks good and diverse so far—which for us is normal except that we saw an increase in the number of Native Americans who have come to the theater. The percentage went from 0% to maybe 4% for this show.”
“The play was amazing,” DeVore continued. “What stuck with me especially was the Native American elder in different ways in different times was saying, ‘We’ve been telling the wrong stories.’ That line resonated in my head. As a white woman watching the play, and knowing how we teach American history, we are clearly telling the wrong stories. And that feels related to the big-ness of it. All these stories need to get out, they need to get told. I want him [Gardley] to write this as a 10-play cycle.”
DeVore’s one critique of the road weeps… was its expansiveness. “My main desire was that I wanted to know the characters more, and sit with one set of two or three of them. The scope of it at times just felt overwhelming,” she said.
But writer and enrolled Ft. Berthold tribal member R. Vincent Moniz, Jr. had a completely different take. ”It’s theater, it’s supposed to be big,” he said. “You’re supposed to push it out. For me, I really felt like the foundation of it was this fantastic story. It would be less compelling if it was just some period piece about what happened.”
“The migration story of Seminole people to Oklahoma was incredible,” he continued. “The reveal that the two main characters had unrequited love – I loved that story. It was a really nice eye-opening of the whole timeline, the mixture of the two cultures, the nefarious Indians across the river trying to enslave people, the issue of generalized spiritual Indian religion versus hardline Christianity.”
Moniz did, however, want to see more attention paid to the generalized representation of Native America in the play, as some of the wardrobe and movement “didn’t come alive for me. As an Indian guy, I really want to see the Indian come up,” he said.
There was one aspect of the show that Moniz found absolutely riveting, however. “I live on the edge of the seat to see Indians on stage, and I’d like to see more stories with Indians,” he said.
On November 4 at 10 am or November 15 at 3 pm, Pillsbury House will host a post-production conversation about the the road weeps, the well runs dry in their lobby with coffee and refreshments.