“Fairly Traceable,” a play that looks at global warming by Mary Kathryn Nagle, had its world premiere March 10, 2017, as a Native Voices presentation at the Autry Museum of the American West, located in the Griffith Park area of Los Angeles. Native Voices is an Equity theatre company at the Autry that is dedicated to producing works by Native Americans.
Running through March 26, “Fairly Traceable” follows two Tulane University law students of Native American descent (a Ponca man and Chitimacha woman) as they grapple with their relationship, heritages, career ambitions, and aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Erin and Randy, the young lovers (played Kyla Garcia, Taino, and Jason Grasl, Blackfeet) meet in an environmental law class shortly before the environment wreaks havoc on their lives. In this dramedy, Erin and their professor tackle the impact big oil and corporate polluters have that can lead to environmental disasters.
Nagle (a Cherokee) attended Tulane as law student during the hurricanes. Accordingly, she infuses the work with the experience of going away to college and having your plans drowned, literally. In addition to writing plays, she is a partner at an Oklahoma law firm and nationally recognized expert in federal tribal law. Her play combines her understanding of tribal sovereignty and cultural identity issues with a discussion on the impact of big oil.
The production’s title, “Fairly Traceable,” refers to a doctrine established by the late Justice Antonin Scalia in the opinion he wrote for the Supreme Court case Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife (1992). Since then, Scalia’s fairly traceable doctrine is used to prevent those individuals seeking redress for “climate change” environmental destruction from holding the big oil corporations accountable.
Besides New Orleans, the play is set in Joplin, MO., and Pointe-au-Chien, Louisiana, which are the hometowns for the two student lovers. The work lets the audience get to know more about their lives and sense of heritage before their worlds are torn apart by the tragedy of the two devastating 2005 hurricanes and the 2011 Joplin tornado, the most expensive ever damage-wise. The production also expands into the future, beginning and ending in 2042, and suggesting decades of future environmental tragedies.
Native Voices Producing Artistic Director Jean Bruce Scott noted that “Fairly Traceable is one of the most exciting and timely plays Native Voices has ever produced. Nagle tackles the issues of climate change and illuminates the laws and protections a conservative court has historically accorded corporations over individual rights to clean air and water.”
Native Voices was founded in 1993 and became the Autry Museum’s resident theatre company in 1999. Its breakthrough plays and diverse programming seek to highlight points of view from the 500-plus Native American nations in North America. To date, Native Voices at the Autry has produced 32 plays, along with hundreds of workshops, staged readings, and other showcases. In addition to the content developed, the theatre company also features many actors who are Native Americans. For their 2016-2017 season, Native Voice’s productions are touch on the theme, “Take Back the Land.”
The Native Voices play, “Fairly Traceable,” runs through March 26 at the Autry, with matinees on the weekends. Tickets to the production also include museum admission during regular hours.
By Dyanne Weiss
Performance March 10, 2017
Autry Museum: Native Voices at the Autry Presents the World Premiere of Fairly Traceable by Mary Kathryn Nagle
Autry Museum: About Native Voices
Photo of, left to right, Jason Grasl as Randy, Kyla Garcia as Erin in “Fairly Traceable” by Mary Kathryn Nagle courtesy of Native Voices at the Autry © 2017 by Craig Schwartz Photography