Review: FRIGID NY Festival 2022: Support the "Pueblo Revolt"

Pueblo Revolt

Written by Dillon Chitto

Directed by Amanda Levie

Presented by No Peeking Theatre at UNDER St. Marks

94 St. Marks Place, Manhattan, NYC

February 19-March 5, 2022

A previous production of Pueblo Revolt.  Courtesy Emily Owens PR
No Peeking Theatre specializes in productions that engage every sense except sight, and it brings its brand of blindfolded theater back to UNDER St. Marks with Pueblo Revolt, a story of two Indigenous brothers in a Spanish-occupied town that begins on the eve of a 1680 uprising that historically pushed the colonizers out for more than a decade. Developed during AlterTheatre’s 2020-21 AlterLab Playwright Residency in San Rafael, California, Pueblo Revolt is currently playing as part of FRIGID New York's 16th annual festival, in which one hundred percent of the proceeds go to the artists. For a full schedule of shows, all of which can be experienced in person or via livestream, visit FRIGID New York's website.

Image courtesy Emily Owens PR
In Pueblo Revolt, siblings Cochni (Sparrowhawk Caught on Fire) and Henati (Chris Negron) live in a town named Pueblo Isleta, located today on the stolen land of New Mexico. The town is under the rule of Spanish settler colonialists, so, for example, Henati also has a Spanish name, Pedro, works at the Spanish church, and wears a cross for the protection from abuse that it affords. These are, of course, lesser aspects of the violence of settler colonial oppression, as emphasized by Cochni's entering after having been beaten by multiple Spaniards. Soon, though, word comes of an incipient rebellion, something for which Cochni had already been advocating.

Henati, however, is at this point a bit less keen on revolt than his older brother. Henati is more willing to give others, the Spanish included, the benefit of the doubt, and not only because he has a crush on the Spanish baker's son, Guillermo. Through Henati, Pueblo Revolt suggests that revolution is a messier matter at the personal level. It further acknowledges that the revolutionary appeal to a return to past ways, or even to a mythic past, represents more of a rallying point than an actual postcolonial possibility. (Cochni also has a vision of the future, which works against the popular dominant cultural conception of Indigenous people as frozen in the past and/or as continually in the process of vanishing.) By the end, Henati will be forced both to contemplate what home is and what he will do to get there.

In addition to the actors' performances, the production creates its sense of immersion through both sound and scent (the purview of Justin Green and Amanda Levie, respectively); and a table of objects including woven baskets, a beaded necklace, and a knife are available to touch before the show proper starts and the blindfolds go on. The lack of sight works very well as a vehicle for the (often comic) anachronisms that pepper the play's dialogue, bending or collapsing past and present and perhaps constituting a rejection of settler colonial conceptions of teleological time. However you conceptualize your time, spend some of it with Pueblo Revolt.

-John R. Ziegler and Leah Richards

More FRIGID 2022 Reviews:
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