By Lynn Geyer
Danny K. Marshall, storyteller and Steilacoom Tribal Chair, and his daughter Lacie B. Deck have incorporated the charming retelling of some of the Steilacoom Tribe legends into the play “Stick Soup,” which is currently on stage at Pierce College’s Theatre Studio 320.
Marshall and Deck have centered on several tales from the tribe’s history to tell the modern story of a young Indian girl who feels lost among her peers because she doesn’t feel or look like an Indian.
Her “identify” has been taken away by the insistence of the government to make her “fit in” – to become like all the rest. She is lost until her grandfather tells her some points about her people which have hitherto fore gone by the wayside.
This is a simple tale told in simple words of love and understanding for the young girl’s plight. In its telling, the audience is made aware of some endearing tribal stories.
Like so many peoples, there are similarities in our ancient history. The biblical flood, for instance, finds the leader of the Steilacoom people told by the creator to tie his canoe to the peak of a mountain in order to survive the rising waters; all the animals, including man, spoke the same language; and the water-laden clouds needing help from a Steilacoom maiden to rise up in the sky to make the sun shine.
Marshall also directs the play and is heard as the voice-over narrator. The cast is comprised of Pierce College students and employees, some of whom are novice actors.
This is an ensemble cast, with each member doing more than one part – a modern student, teacher or family member and a legendary tribal character.
Christina Brewer is our troubled young girl, Alexandra; her grandfather is ably played by Julio Perez.
Ensemble actors are Naomi Rahn, Maria Schloessman, Rebekah Hoyte, Chelsea Baker, Hercules Gumabon, Adam Blank, Ofelia Leung, Curtis Rhyner, Theresa Keating and Calvin Beekman.
As with any ensemble, there are some standout performers. In this cast, Baker who plays the Dog Leader is quite amusing. Blank as the Great Wolf makes a fearsome adversary to Gumabon’s gentle Young Brave.
The wonderful set is designed by Richard Buckley who also does the lights, which are a highlight of the production, as are Kelsey McCandless’ special effects.
Remaining performances of “Stick Soup” are May 27 and 28 at 7 p.m. with 2 p.m. Sunday matinees May 22 and 29. The play is in Studio 320 in the Cascade Building on the Fort Steilacoom campus at 9401 Farwest Drive in Lakewood. Reservations may be made by calling the theatre at (253) 964-6710.
In the tribal custom, he who holds the Talking Stick can not be interrupted until he passes it to another speaker. Pass on “Stick Soup” to your friends so these beautiful legends may be long remembered.