Indybay Regions North Coast Central Valley North Bay East Bay South Bay San Francisco Peninsula Santa Cruz IMC - Independent Media Center for the Monterey Bay Area North Coast Central Valley North Bay East Bay South Bay San Francisco Peninsula Santa Cruz IMC - Independent Media Center for the Monterey Bay Area California United States International Americas Haiti Iraq Palestine Afghanistan
From the Open-Publishing Calendar
From the Open-Publishing Newswire
Indybay Feature

Joy Harjo's Wings of Night Sky, Wings of Morning Light - Review

by Corina Roberts (redbirds_vision [at]
Joy Harjo gives a compelling and intimate performance at the Autry National Center - her play Wings of Night Sky, Wings of Morning Light premieres March 12, 2009 at the Autry National Center in Los Angeles
Wings of Night Sky, Wings of Morning Light

Story telling, Native style

Theatre review by Corina Roberts
March 11, 2009

Joy Harjo of the Mvskoke Nation is best known for her poetry and music, which I expected to encounter when Michael and I attended a preview of her play at the Autry National Center on Wednesday evening. I was unaware she is also a playwright and an actor.

That Harjo portrays a character named Redbird, and that the backdrop for the performance is a beautiful, giant horse is not why I came away moved…it did make me feel delightfully welcome into the world she would unfold before us.

In her play Wings of Night Sky, Wings of Morning Light Harjo takes her audience on a journey that begins and ends with healing. If the essence of ceremony can be put on stage, she has done it.

Harjo opens with a story of how we got lost; how we became separated from the beautiful world we were born into, a long time ago. She transitions smoothly into the personal story of Redbird Monawhee, a contemporary character facing challenges all too familiar to us today.

Her poetry is present, in her words and in the music. Accompanied by Larry Mitchell, the play is at once a musical, personal and healing journey through an Indian woman’s life. It is a window into the world of stories and realities, power songs and powerful actions. There is both humor and sadness, struggle and self-discovery, and interwoven through it all, the importance of the old stories and the lessons they hold.

For native people, it will remind you of your connections; for those who study Native American philosophy, professionally or as a personal journey, there is much to learn in Harjo’s work. The synthesis of story, song and ceremony is brought to life with raw beauty and compelling honesty. There is nothing superficial and nothing sacrificed to the theatrical aspect. Harjo shares with us what healing is, and with whom it begins.

The play comes full circle, ending with a story that demonstrates how healing works, and how we emerge from the old world into the new. Harjo and Mitchell close with guitar, saxophone and Harjo’s clear, strong voice, allowing the audience to come gently back into their own worlds before they leave the theatre.

Wings of Night Sky, Wings of Morning Light is story telling, native style…a bit like taking part in a healing ceremony from the comfort of your seat. I recommend the experience for native and non-native people alike.

Native Voices at the Autry’s World Premier Play
Wings of Night Sky, Wings of Morning Light
By Joy Harjo
March 12-29, 2009
Starring Joy Harjo and featuring Larry Mitchell
Executive Producers Randy Reinholz (Choctaw) and Jean Bruce Scott
Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 pm – Saturdays and Sundays at 2 pm
Autry National Center of the American West
4700 Western Heritage Way (in Griffith Park)
Los Angeles, CA 90027
(323) 667-2000
Autry Members $12.00
General Admission $20.00
Thursday March 19 and 26 are pay what you can performances
For group rate discounts call Christi at (323) 466-5830 or email Christi [at]

Corina Roberts, Founder
Email: redbirds_vision [at]
P.O. Box 702, Simi Valley, CA 93062

The opinions and information contained herewith are intended for distribution in accordance with Redbird’s mission; promoting the awareness and celebration of indigenous cultures and people and creating a sustainable future. Please feel free to share this information with your readership.

Add Your Comments
Listed below are the latest comments about this post.
These comments are submitted anonymously by website visitors.
Joy Harjo's
Fri, Mar 13, 2009 2:15PM
We are 100% volunteer and depend on your participation to sustain our efforts!


$60.00 donated
in the past month

Get Involved

If you'd like to help with maintaining or developing the website, contact us.


Publish your stories and upcoming events on Indybay.

IMC Network