Rhiana Yazzie

Playwright
she/her/hers

Rhiana Yazzie is a 2021 Lanford Wilson and 2020 Steinberg Award winning playwright, a director, a filmmaker, and the Artistic Director of New Native Theatre, which she started in 2009 as a response to the lack of connection and professional opportunities between Twin Cities theaters and the Native community. A Navajo Nation citizen (Ta’neeszahnii bashishchiin dóó Táchii’nii dashinalí), she’s seen her plays on stages from Alaska to Mexico including in Carnegie Hall’s collaboration with American Indian Community House & Eagle Project. Some of her plays include Like the Polar Bear Mom (Long Wharf Theatre and Rattlestick Theater co-commission), Nancy (Mosaic Theater), Queen Cleopatre and Princess Pocahontas (Oregon Shakespeare Festival and Public Theater co-commission), The Nut, The Hermit, The Monk and The Crow (Yale Indigenous Performing Arts) and Ady (Pangea). In 2023 she directed the US Premiere of Missing, a story about a missing and murdered Indigenous woman at the Anchorage Opera and directed her debut feature film, A Winter Love (Best Narrative Feature, 2023 Minnesota Film Festival; Achievement in Directing, LA Skins Festival) which has been in mainstream and Indigenous film festivals around the globe. She is a graduate of the University of Southern California’s Masters of Professional Writing where she produced events featuring Stephen Hawking, Herbie Hancock, and Spalding Gray. Rhiana is currently writing plays for The Kennedy Center, Solas Nua & Fishamble theaters, and the University of New Mexico.

Rhiana created New Native Theatre in 2009, a company based in the Twin Cities; it is a new way of looking at, thinking about, and staging Native American stories. Notable productions include Native Man the Musical which was praised by the Twin Cities’ local Native American newspaper, The Circle News, “The paradigm of Native American manhood shifted with New Native Theatre’s production.” It was followed up by Native Woman the Musical in 2018.  Other successes include developing original works by an array of Native American playwrights across the country; in 2023 New Native Theater was honored as a Headwaters Bush Prize Award winner for its social impact and nurturing of the creation of a Native American theater performing arts ecosystem in the state of Minnesota. New Native Theatre will celebrate its 15th anniversary in 2024.

 

Highlights

2021 Lanford Wilson Award

2020 Steinberg Award

2017/18 Bush Fellowship

2017 Sally Ordway Award for Vision

Playwrights' Center McKnight Fellowship; Jerome Fellowship; & Core Writer.