May 28, 2009

Friday RSU Hosts Reading of JudyLee Oliva's Latest Work

The Rogers State University Theatre Program will present a public reading of "Quietly Standing in the Shade," a new play by JudyLee Oliva, an award-winning Chickasaw playwright, at 7:07 p.m. on Friday, in room 146 of Herrington Hall on the RSU campus.  The reading is free and open to the public.

"Quietly Standing in the Shade" is a two-act drama about the difficulties of the Turner family in rural Oklahoma during the current recession set amidst the charred remains of an Episcopal church in a small town in Oklahoma. The church fire has displaced, both physically and mentally, the Turner family.

The reading is part of the play's development and the audience will be asked to provide feedback on Oliva's work, said David Blakely assistant professor and director of the RSU Theatre Program. In November, RSU Theatre plans to take the finished product to the stage, he said.

Oliva visited campus last fall to work with students on the script. She went home and incorporated what she discovered here into a new draft that is being presented Friday. The playwright will be in attendance Friday night to hear the play and listen to responses from actors and audience members. She will use the feedback to further hone the script. 

RSU students Traci Rainwater, Nikki Forehand, Ashley Overton, and Gary Webb, as well as Assistant Professor Dr. Gregory Thompson, will be reading the characters.

Oliva was born and raised in the South. She holds an MFA in directing from the University of Oklahoma and a doctorate in theater and drama from Northwestern University. Her work has been seen by audiences from coast to coast including New York City, Chicago, and Los Angeles. Not only a playwright, she has she worked as an actress, lyricist and scholar.

Oliva is a published playwright and author of two books on theater, and has contributed chapters to several other books, and published more than thirty articles on theater in a variety of journals. She has worked in professional theater in Chicago and New York as well as regional and academic theater.

She enjoys conducting playwriting workshops while developing her own work and has served as Artist in Residence in a wide variety of settings. Of Chickasaw descent, her work in Native American Theater has been honored with numerous awards.

Oliva was named as the 2006  Dynamic Chickasaw Women of the Year for her thirteen years of work on her play, "Te Ata," which had its world premiere in Oklahoma. She is, most recently, a recipient of a 2009 Visual and Expressive Arts grant presented by the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian. She resides in Choctaw.