November is Native American Heritage Month and a fitting time for the world premiere performance of Life Lessons: A Gift from the Lakota to the World on stage at Leach Theatre in Rolla.
Jeanne Stanley, assistant professor of theater in the arts, languages and philosophy department at Missouri University of Science and Technology, adapted the play from the book The Lakota Way, by Joseph Marshall III.
Life Lessons: A Gift from the Lakota to the World will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 9, and Saturday, Nov. 10, and at 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 11, in Leach Theatre of Castleman Hall on the Missouri S&T campus, 10th and Main streets in Rolla.
Tickets are $6 each and are available in the Leach Theatre Box Office, located in the vestibule inside the main entrance to Leach Theatre, facing 10th Street. Box office hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Call 573-341-4219 for more information.
Marshall’s book, The Lakota Way, defines 12 core qualities that are crucial to the Lakota Indian way of life. Values like love, bravery, humility, honor, fortitude and perseverance are described through storytelling, history and folklore.
“I was so moved by Joseph’s book and wanted to share these wonderful Lakota stories about virtues we all aspire to,” says Stanley. “Life Lessons will illustrate Lakota parables with acting, dance, original music, authentic Lakota voices, and international student narrators. The stories remind us that we are all far more alike than different in our core values.”
The original music for Life Lessons: A Gift from the Lakota to the World was written by David Cress, lecturer in the arts, languages and philosophy department at Missouri S&T and conductor of S&T’s Jazz Band, and Jeff Williams, a former music teacher and Rolla resident. The choreography is by Aimee Snell, a senior in mechanical engineering at S&T.
Author Marshall will be on the Missouri S&T campus Friday, Nov. 9, to lead a workshop based on his latest book, Return to The Lakota Way, at 1 p.m. in the Turner Room of the Havener Center. The free workshop is open to the public. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve a spot.
Marshall will sign his books at 7 p.m. in the Leach Theatre lobby prior to the 7:30 show on Friday. He will also be available for a question-and-answer session at 9:30 p.m. in the lobby following the performance. The Missouri S&T Bookstore, located inside the Havener Center on campus, will have copies of his books in stock for purchase prior to the signing.
Stanley has traveled to South Dakota several times to research the culture of the Lakota. Students plan to build a teepee on the lawn of Castleman Hall prior to the premiere. Costumes are being hand-beaded and a student has learned to play the Lakota flute for the performance. The Lakota tribe will also lend the production two 14-foot teepees for the stage.
“We’re doing our best to make this as authentic as possible,” says Stanley.
Marshall was born and raised on the Rosebud Sioux Indian Reservation, where he co-founded Sinte Gleska University. He is an advocate, author, activist, storyteller and educator who is committed to improving education for the Native American community and to increasing awareness of Native American culture throughout the world.
The play is sponsored in part by the University of Missouri Research Board, Arts Rolla and Missouri S&T provost’s office, and the arts, languages and philosophy department, in addition to many individual donors.