Princess Pocahontas and the Blue Spots Synopsis
Two Plays: includes Birdwoman and the Suffragettes: A Story of Sacajawea
by Monique Mojica
- Two Groups of Characters Played by Two Women
- Group 1
- Princess Buttered-on-Both-Sides: One of the many faces of the Trickster, Coyote. She is a contestant in the Miss North American Indian Beauty Pageant, and she is stuck in the talent segment.
- Contemporary Woman #1: A modern, Native woman on a journey to recover the history of her grandmothers as a tool towards her own healing.
- Malinche: A Nahuatl woman who was the interpreter and strategist for the Spanish conquistador, Hernan Cortez. She was also his mistress and bore him one son. Throughout Mexico and much of Latin America, she is referred to as “La Chingada”–the fucked one, and her name is synonymous with traitor. In some legends, Malinche turns into a volcano when Cortez leaves Mexico.
- Storybook Pocahontas: The little Indian Princess from the picture books, friend of the settlers, in love with the Captain, comes complete with her savage-Indian-Chief father.
- Pocahontas/Lady Rebecca/Matoaka: The three names of Pocahontas, a Powhatan woman whose father was the chief of the Powhatan Confederacy at the time of the Jamestown Colony in Virginia. She is best known for saving the life of Captain John Smith when she was eleven years old, and for saving the colonists from starvation. The legendary Pocahontas of the ballads and romantic poetry has become the archetype of the “good Indian:” one who aids and abets white men. Lady Rebecca was what she was named when she was Christianized and married John Rolfe. Matoaka was her name as a child.
- Deity/Woman of the Puna/Virgin: Written for the female deities who have been usurped by the Catholic church and turned into virgins. Deity’s name could be Nusta Huillac, Tonatzin, Coyolahuaxqui or many others. Woman of the Puna was a Quechua woman who along with others, refused to become Christianized, left the Spanish court of colonial Peru and fled to the high tablelands of the Andes called the puna where they lived without men. This area is still considered woman’s territory. In this tradition there were also virgin priestesses who were married to the sun. La Virgen del Carmen (La Tirana), and La Virgen de Guadelupe are only two of the Catholic virgins to whom devotion was built upon already existing reverence to female deities and leaders.
- Marie/Margaret/Madelaine: Three faces out of the hordes of Cree and Metis women who portaged across Canada with white men on their backs and were then systemically discarded.
- Cigar Store Squaw: Princess Buttered-on-Both-Sides embodied another well-known and accepted icon of Native Women.
- Spirit Animal: The one who travels with you; she guides, guards and protects.
- Group 2
- Host: The beauty pageant MC. A cross between Bert Parks and a sleazy Latin band leader.
- The Blue Spots: The “doo-wop” girls who back up Princess Pocahontas and her band.
- Contemporary Woman#2: A modern Chilean-born woman who carries her history of resistance from the survival of the Andean women, to the “Amanda” guerilleras to her own story as a refugee. As a woman of the Americas, she accompanies Contemporary Woman#1 on her journey.
- Troubador: The entertainer in the Elizabethan court upon Pocahontas’ arrival in England.
- Ceremony: The personification of the puberty ritual. She is the instructions of the grandmothers, she is the fast, she is the songs, she is the dance, she is the paint, she is the sacred bleed, she is the initiation.
- The Man: The husband, the lover, the friend, the “brother” in the struggle whose oppression is fully understood but whom the women end up carrying anyway.
- Spirit-Sister: A helper, a guide, an equal on the other side.
- Musician: Plays samponas, guitar, tiple, drums, pennywhistle, ocarinas, and birimbao as well as a variety of small percussion instruments and vocals.
- The theme of the set, costumes and props undergo transformations; objects and set pieces appear to be one thing but become something else; the can be turned inside-out to reveal another reality. The pile of cloth becomes a garment, a canal, a volcano; the gilded portrait frame is pulled away from the wall where it has been camouflaged in the foliage of the tree and the rainforest; the pyramid becomes the staircase of a Vegas-style show; and the limbs of the tree of life can be a playground or a place from which to hang oneself.
The tree stands upstage right and is draped in layers of fabric in luxurious textures, there is a platform at the crotch of the tree and it is hollow. At the foot of the tree are placed an enamel basin, cup and pitcher of water, a small pot of red paint, a bucket of sand, and a bag of popcorn. There is a pyramid upstage left with stairs facing both downstage and stage right. A pole downstage left is pegged for climbing and decorated with faces and clothing of the Metis women. At the base of the pole is an enamel basin of water. At the beginning of the show, the stage is bare except for these things and the volcano/cloth placed downstage left and draped along the circle which is centrestage and painted to look like a copper disk. At the end of the show, the stage is littered with debris from the stories that are told.
- Mojica’s first full length play consists of two actresses playing 17 characters between them. The two continually shift characters on stage as quickly as the entire scenes (referred to as transformations) shift. The total effect is a meshing of the absurdity of the dominant culture’s view of Native American heroes, the anger and sorrow of the truths buried beneath this view, and the modern Native American’s struggle in between.
Synopsis written by J. Barnett 9/25/97.