Responding to controversy: Talk Back 2/8/2020

Dominion Stage has never been shy about producing plays and musicals that deal with controversial issues. We have tackled LGBTQ issues in many productions. Our productions have dealt with suicide, sexual abuse, rape, mental illness, racial inequality, and violence. Right now, in our current musical, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, we are dealing with the troubling history of our country, racism, genocide, the cult of personality, and populism.

Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson has a history of controversy. The titular character, Andrew Jackson, was responsible for the geocide of thousands of Native Americans, was rabidly racist, and enjoyed a populist wave of support similar to our current president. Early productions appropriated Native American dress and employed stereotypical portrayals of Native American characters. It should not be a surprise that those productions faced outrage from the Native American community.

Dominion Stage has taken a different approach which we made public in an open letter published early in the rehearsal process. Additionally we posted a content warning on our website and in the playbill. We created a lobby display featuring the historical characters appearing in the show and the “Cherokee Removal” or “Trail of Tears” that President Andrew Jackson ordered.  There is also a lobby display outlining the controversy surrounding this show.

Finally, Dominion Stage will hold a talk back with Director, Danielle Guy (pictured with this post), and production team members following the Saturday, February 8th performance. We hope our efforts to handle the sensitive and controversial subject matter and history of Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson resonate with our audiences.

DC Metro Theater Arts critic John Stoltenberg had this to say about our production: “I cannot say whether this Dominion Stage production rehabilitates or redeems a work that Native theater artists have legitimately long complained of. I can say, however, as someone who cares deeply about the moral life of American theater, that Dominion Stage’s zesty production of Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson is a must-check-out showcase of accountable social-justice aspiration.” His full review is available here.