In an interview with Paul G the Natives of the Apocalypse (NOTA) group shared their inspiring journey of creating indigenous theater. Comprising four talented Native American performing arts students, Enoch Chapman, Isaiah St. Cyr, Montana Miller, and Sean Seymour, the group aims to bring forth a new wave of Native American content and performances.
With their unique vision of indigenizing existing plays and musicals, NOTA is successfully infusing Native flair into the mainstream theater scene. Through their innovative approach, they are providing platforms for Native actors and giving voice to the underrepresented Native American community.
Building a Native Theater Renaissance
The emergence of Native-led theater companies, like NOTA, demonstrates the growing renaissance of indigenous storytelling and creative expression. Inspired by the increasing demand for Native representation in the entertainment industry, the group came together to revolutionize Native theater. Educated in the performing arts at the Institute of American Indian Arts, the NOTA members realized that traditional acting career paths could be uncertain and competitive. This realization motivated them to create a theater company that would not only allow them to continue acting but also open doors for Native performers seeking alternative avenues.
Creating New Native American Theater
NOTA's mission centers around indigenizing existing plays and musicals and offering a fresh perspective to familiar stories. By infusing their performances with indigenous humor, music, and adapted dialogues, they bring a unique Native American experience to audiences. Inspired by the success of Bear Grease's indigenous adaptation of “Grease,” NOTA seeks to amplify indigenous voices in the theater industry. Their productions invite viewers to engage with compelling narratives that transcend cultural boundaries while highlighting the beauty and depth of Native American heritage.
The Power of Native Representation
NOTA's endeavor to bring Native American stories to the forefront extends beyond personal ambitions. Their dedication to representation stems from their understanding of the significance of visibility and accurate portrayals in popular culture. By reclaiming narratives and showcasing Native talents, NOTA challenges stereotypes and misconceptions surrounding indigenous communities. Through their work, they aim to empower Native Americans by providing diverse, authentic, and nuanced portrayals that counteract historic misrepresentations.
Navigating Challenges and Creating Opportunities
While Native actors like NOTA have made strides in the entertainment industry, they still face unique challenges, including inconsistent job opportunities and the constant hustle for new gigs. Despite these hurdles, the group remains resilient, relying on their collective experiences and the synergy between their individual talents. Their collaboration in NOTA not only allows them to showcase their skills but also helps them navigate the uncertainties of the industry by creating their own work.
Natives of the Apocalypse exemplify the power of indigenous storytelling and the desire to bring about change within the theater industry. With a commitment to indigenizing mainstream narratives, they provide platforms for Native performers, amplifying their voices and experiences. Through their creativity, passion, and unwavering determination, NOTA is fostering a theater renaissance that recognizes and embraces Native American culture. As audiences increasingly demand diverse and inclusive performances, NOTA is at the forefront, crafting powerful stories that promote understanding, representation, and appreciation for indigenous experiences.