At 5 p.m. Sunday, April 3, the Lensic Performing Arts Center (211 W. San Francisco St.) presents Moccasins and Microphones: Modern Native Storytelling Through Performance Poetry by the Santa Fe Indian School spoken-word team. Founded in 2003 by Timothy P. McLaughlin, the spoken-word program empowers students to create original poetry, much of it focused on indigenous life and philosophy. “The performance poetry of the SFIS poets is a continuation of the ancient tradition of storytelling through a fresh, modern format,” McLaughlin said.
Named one of the “Ten Who Made a Difference” in 2008 by The Santa Fe New Mexican, the team consists of 16 performers, most of them between 13 and 18; one of them, a teacher apprentice who has already completed the spoken-word program, is 21 years old. The group performed at The Chicago Theatre and the National Museum of the American Indian and in Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia. Sixteen performance pieces cover an array of political, spiritual, and personal topics that speak to the performers’ lives as teens, young adults, and tribal members. For example, “Indian Education 1” explores elders’ experiences at a boarding school; “War” asks audiences to contemplate the military conflict in Afghanistan through the eyes of a Native soldier who is visited by his “shadow self” during combat operations.
McLaughlin said that Moccasins and Microphones is the largest and most elaborate show produced by the SFIS spoken-word program. “This moment is really the culmination of a great eight-year journey. Last year, we created a CD to document the finest poems in the program’s history, and this year we’ve developed this theater production from poems off the album. There is a lot of song and dance interwoven into these performances. I’m extremely proud of what these students have accomplished, and they’re excited to see this production breathe onstage in front of a large and diverse audience.”
Tickets for the event, $10, are available by calling 988-1234 and visiting www.ticketssantafe.org. For more information about the program and the CD, check out www.sfisspokenword.org.
— Rob DeWalt
Santa Fe Indian School spoken-word team members