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Assimilation at Evening at Egan

The white boys are read the rules by their Yupik teacher in this play that turns the tables on the disturbing history of boarding schools for Alaska Natives.

The white boys are read the rules by their Yupik teacher in this play that turns the tables on the disturbing history of boarding schools for Alaska Natives.

The UAS Juneau campus was the first stop for a statewide tour of the play, Assimilation.  Five actors and Alaska Native playwright and storyteller Jack Dalton took the stage with the two hour play Friday, October 9 at the Egan Library. The performance was followed by a lengthy and informative discussion. The ensemble is touring the play around Alaska with hopes of healing brutal history.

Set in a dystopian future, Assimilation flips the script on the boarding school history that plagues indigenous people around the world. In Assimilation, the Natives are running the boarding school and the Whites are being assimilated into Native culture. The play premiered at Cyrano’s Theatre Company in Anchorage in 2010, and again at Out North Contemporary Art House in 2013 to sold-out performances and critical acclaim. Then Anchorage Daily News Arts Editor Mike Dunham called it “One of the most powerful pieces of locally written theater ever produced here.”

Alaska Natives who survived abuse at boarding schools have praised the play for telling the story of what happened to them without reopening the wounds. “This is a history the entire state must address,” said playwright Jack Dalton. “Whether your family has been in Alaska for generations, or you moved here last week, this history affects us all, and we must all come to terms with it.”

Other confirmed dates and venues include October 13 at the Elders & Youth Conference; Denaina Center Anchorage, Hilton Anchorage Hotel, October 14-18, during AFN; the North Slope Healthy Living Summit, Barrow, October 21-23; UAF, Fairbanks, November 20-21 and Bunnell Street Art Center, Homer, November 27-28.

 
 

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