bloody, bloody andrew jackson

Staying True to History and Atrocity

bloody, bloody andrew jackson
Emma Woods is dragged away by fellow cast members in Theatre NDSU’s production of “Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson.”

“Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson” is not just another show for Chelsea Pace and the musical’s cast members.

Theatre NDSU’s 2015-16 season gets off the ground Thursday with a punk-rock musical going back to the pages of history often overlooked: the genocide and destruction of U.S. indigenous people. Through music, lights and humor of the theater, “Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson” challenges the icons and events of history, Pace, the show’s director, said.

“This piece is a great opportunity to not only bring the education funk” to the stage, Pace said, but also starting a conversation by partnering the indigenous people.

Following the story of President Andrew Jackson and his interactions with indigenous people, “Bloody, Bloody” goes back to the Trail of Tears, the Indian Removal Act and other horrors wrought against those native to the U.S.

While subject matter is sobering, Pace said a Facebook comments stream she had with Jake Pinholster, a colleague and crew member of the original “Bloody, Bloody” New York production, summed up the sentiments about this musical.

Alice Wu
Alice Wu cracks the history books in the theater department’s season opener production for 2015-16.

“We were having a conversation about whether or not art needed to be fun or entertaining … this idea that art could be uncomfortable … and Jake said, ‘Art can please, art can disturb. It can do both or in sequence or in parallel,'” Pace said.

Twenty-two undergraduate students comprise the cast, along with two community members of indigenous backgrounds.

A 7-year-old boy fills the role of Lyncoya, Jackson’s adopted son, while sociology professor Michael Yellow Bird plays various chiefs in the story.

The show’s music, meanwhile, is driven by a live band including cast members playing guitars, ukuleles, drums and other instruments.

“It’s loud. It’s fast. It’s really funny,” Pace said. “The characters are larger than life but also historically true, and the music is ridiculous and wonderful.

“And it rocks you really, really, hard.”

Though seemingly lighthearted, the show digs in with history, offering a lobby installation of historical perspectives on indigenous suffering as well as Yellow Bird speaking about indigenous colonization in the pre-show minutes.

Pace added that the show’s first lines are, “I’m wearing some tight, tight pants, and tonight we’re gonna get into some serious, serious shit. I’m Andrew Jackson. I’m your president. Let’s go.”

Altogether, “Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson” is an opportunity to point at atrocity, and to think about what’s been left out of the history books and school curriculums.

Work on the show stretches back to the summer, when Pace wrote a grant to work with Yellow Bird and theater faculty Hardy Koenig. The College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences has also been involved in a show that isn’t just another “fun show” for the theater department, Pace said.

“This piece is an opportunity for us to connect with the community … in a way in the past that Theatre NDSU hasn’t necessarily addressed or served,” she said.

7:30 p.m. Thursday-Friday, Oct. 28-31
WHERE: Askanase Auditorium
PRICE: Free for students
MORE INFO: 701-231-7969

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