Monday, November 21, 2016

Lynn Riggs and The Cherokee Night...

More history that is almost never talked about (and this one is also for my theater friends):

Many are familiar with the musical Oklahoma as being one of Rogers & Hammerstein's more famous works. But did you know that they only adapted it from a musical written by a playwright of Native American descent by the name of Lynn Riggs?
Riggs - a man of Cherokee descent on his mother's side - wrote the original "Oklahoma" under the original title of "Green Grow the Lilacs." Lilacs went to Broadway in 1931 and starred Tex Ritter and June Walker. It was also nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.
Much of Riggs's plays involved characters of mixed Native and European descent as he was. This included Green Grow the Lilacs where many of the main characters were mixed.
Another of Riggs's more popular plays was one called The Cherokee Night, which followed the lives of Americans who were of Cherokee and European descent. This was also performed by several theater companies throughout the 1930s.
The sad part is that Green Grow the Lilacs has been long forgotten. Also if you google Cherokee Night, the first results you get is the Cherokee Night Jeep. And when I went to the Goodreads page for Lynn Riggs, I saw a comment from a young woman stating how disappointed she was to find out that Lynn Riggs was not a prolific 'woman playwright' from the early part of the 20th century, I replied along the lines of "well no, but he was a prolific early 20th century writer of acknowledged Native American descent who wrote of the lives of Natives during that time, particularly individuals of mixed Native and European descent." And...she still has yet to reply. -_-
But you still can buy Riggs's works and learn more about them, most notably in this compilation, The Cherokee Night and Other Plays:

The Cherokee Night and Other Plays at Amazon

More info on Lynn Riggs and a more recent production of Green Grow the Lilacs


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