News From Native California Volume 31, Issue 3 - Page 12

By Tima Lotah Link and Lynn Jeffries Tima: Last year I saw a hip-hop dancer move to the voice of an opera singer while an all-female mariachi band played. Only in LA would something like that come to life, which is why dreamers flock here from around the world. LA is in the middle of Tongva country, and Tongva people here are different from other tribes in California—more likely to try weird things on their pizza, more likely to travel out of their area, more likely to think up strange and unusual stuff. I have a feeling Tongva country was always like that—a place of art and crazy ideas, where Native cultures from all over California docked their tule boats and plank canoes in the harbor and came together to create the wonderful and unexpected. Today, Tongva country is still wonderful and unexpected, and that’s how Lynn the Puppeteer and Tima the Chumash Weaver met and made woven gourd puppets together. Lynn knew nothing about weaving and Tima knew nothing about puppetmaking, but that turned out to be the perfect recipe for magic. This November, Cornerstone Theater delighted audiences with Magic Fruit, a play about Tami, a former gang member who sets out on a journey through an apocalyptic LA. Despite the many challenges Tami faces, including hunger, addiction, financial insecurity, and a system she doesn’t really under- stand, she encounters unexpected allies in strange places as she aims to reunite her family, find a home, and just maybe save the world. Magic Fruit is the culminating bridge show of the Hunger Cycle, a series of nine plays exploring hunger, justice, and food equity issues. Part of that series was the play Urban Rez, which was featured in the Summer 2016 issue of News from Native California. But the real stars (at least we think so), are the hummingbird, scrub jay, kingfisher, dove, and duck puppets who flapped their woven willow wings, perched on shoulders, and turned their shining abalone eyes to the Tongva people who came to watch. Cornerstone Theater has always collaborated with the indigenous peoples who live in LA, but it still made me tear up when they gifted two of the bird puppets to Tongva elders Barbara Drake and Craig Torres at the end of the play run. BUT BEFORE TAMI’S JOURNEY COULD HAPPEN ON STAGE, WE HAD OUR OWN JOURNEY OFFSTAGE. Lynn: When a Cornerstone writer works with a community on a new play, it is often an adaptation of a classic text. Q)ɥݽɬٔչ䁵́ͥ