LA theater company holding auditions for “Native Nation”

Christopher Lomahquahu

Gila River Indian News


A Los Angeles theater company is reaching out to the local Native population for actors and stage hands. 

Cornerstone Theater Company and Arizona State University Gammage have partnered together to bring a unique opportunity to the greater Phoenix area for individuals who want to explore their interests in acting. 


Cornerstone and ASU have hosted script reading sessions at Steele Indian School Park and the ASU Center for Indian Education for the past couple of months as they prepare an April showing of the play “Native Nation.”


 “Native Nation,” is based on the experiences of Indigenous people from all walks of life. The play is written by Larissa FastHorse (Lakota), and will be directed by Michael Garces, Cornerstone Theater Company Artistic Director. 


During the early process of writing the plays, some of the stories are about social issues and customs, topics related to child custody, cultural knowledge and a myriad of issues Native people face, while trying to find an identity in modern times.


In between transitions, from one scene to another, the three plays include information about local tribes, like the Community, Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, Pascua Yaqui and others. The production recognizes the traditional lands of the Akimel O’otham, who trace their ancestry to the Huhugam and how for over a millennia, the Huhugam inhabited what is now the Phoenix Metropolitan area.


“We are definitely looking for people to participate in the auditions that we will be hosting later this month,” said Garces, “The play will change throughout the process and the way it will change is hearing back from people, who will help guide us and tell us what is missing and what is exciting and appropriate for the play.” 


During a script reading on Jan. 27 at Steele Indian School Park in Phoenix, FastHorse and Garces, sat down with participants to emphasize the importance of American Indians’ contributions to the play. 


“It’s very much still in progress and that is why we are here to see what we need to add, we have been coming out here for more than a year and half now,” said FastHorse, “We’ve been talking to folks in settings like this and asking what we should write about and what people need to hear about, about indigenous people in this area.” 


When the play takes place Garces said the audience will be splitting up into groups and watching different stories told simultaneously, so people can have different experiences and learn from the stories each time. 


Garces used this same format previously for the play, “Urban Rez,” which focused on the Native people of Southern California living within the Los Angeles County area. It also included the stories of Native people, who moved to LA from places from across the country.


During the LA event, it became something akin to a cultural fair, which gave visitors an opportunity to experience Native traditional food, performances and arts & crafts booths.


For over 35 years, Cornerstone Theater Company, a collection of professional artists and local members, has been producing plays that go beyond the stage with stories based on the challenges and experience faced in local communities. 


In their previous productions, several of the actors did not have any theater experience. FastHorse and Garces, said that it adds to the sense of community, when a play is based on real experiences and perspectives found in Native people. 


Information about the auditions


There will be open auditions for individuals of all ages and crew members in stage management, set design, sound, lighting, costumes, make-up, production, and other related tasks will be held at the Phoenix Indian School Visitors Center on Feb. 18, and ASU Memorial Union on Feb 19. 


In addition, there is a call for models for a jewelry and fashion showcase to take in between the two show times.  Seeking models of all sizes and gender identities. Please wear all black and comfortable shoes. 


For more information, you can email FastHorse at or Sequoia Lynn Dance, ASU Community Engagement Coordinator at:, or ASU Educational Enrichment Program Manager Desiree Ong at (480) 965-3940. For each of the castings for actors, crew and models, there is no experience necessary.