by Lisa D’Amour
directed by Anne Kauffman
January 8, 2014February 8, 2014



The Wilma's pop-up garden

To accompany Lisa D'Amour's camping comedy CHEROKEE, we have constructed an indoor garden right in our own lobby!  Patrons can enjoy a variety of greenery and garden ephemera in the warmth of our lobby before embarking on a camping trip with the cast of CHEROKEE.  Everything in our garden is alive and nurtured daily:

CHRISTMAS ROSE (Helleborus niger)
DEER FOOT FERN (Davallia fejeensis)
INKBERRY HOLLY (Ilex glabra ‘densa’)
INKBERRY HOLLY SHAMROCK (Ilex glabra ‘shamrock’)
MACHO FERN (Nephrolepis biserrata ‘macho’)
NORFOLK PINE (Araucaria heterophylla)
PEAT MOSS (Sphagnum palustre)
RED OSIER DOGWOOD (Cornus sericea)
WITCH HAZEL (Hamamelis virginiana)


The World of Cherokee

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In our upcoming World Premiere of Cherokee, two couples from Houston embark on a life-changing camping trip in Cherokee, North Carolina. Here's a quick guide to the world of Cherokee.

Cherokee, NC –
Cherokee is located in the heart of the Great Smoky Mountains in western North Carolina. It is the center of the Qualla Boundary, the home of the Easter Band of Cherokee Indians. It is a major tourist attraction in the Southeastern U.S. because of its magnificent scenery, a Harrah’s casino, and a summer outdoor drama, Unto These Hills.

Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians – the history of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians is far too complex to do justice to in a short passage. It is composed of descendants of those few Cherokee (perhaps as few as 700) who were able to remain in the East when the rest of the Cherokee Nation was forced to leave on the “Trail of Tears” in 1838. Some of those who stayed behind held land titles under the Reservation Act of 1819, but most were fugitives who fled to the mountains. Will Thomas, an adopted Cherokee and a lawyer who had defended the land title rights against the Indian Removal Act of 1830, bought land in his own name with Cherokee money (native people could not hold property), allowing these fugitive Cherokee to live there. This ambiguous situation lasted until 1870, when those living on the land were able to obtain a corporate charter. They then wrote a Constitution. The Eastern Band continues to operate under both a Constitution and corporate charter. There are now around 12, 500 members of the Eastern Band. Their land is officially the Qualla Boundary, a land trust, although it is often called the “Cherokee Indian Reservation.”

The “Trail of Tears” – in 1830, the Indian Removal Act was passed, declaring that all members of the “Five Civilized Tribes” – the Cherokee, Choctaw, Seminole, Muscogee-Creek, and Chickasaw – be relocated west of the Mississippi, to what is now Oklahoma. President Andrew Jackson argued that this was a question of federalism, although pressure from white settlers for land and a gold rush in the southern Appalachians played a strong part. The Trail of Tears lasted for more than a decade. The Cherokee held out until 1838, taking their case to the U.S. Supreme Court; in Florida, it prompted the Second Seminole War (1835-1842), in which approximately 3,000 Indians and soldiers died. The Cherokee “relocation” started in the dead of winter. Approximately 16,000 Cherokee started on the Trail of Tears; 4,000 died before reaching their destination.


“Life is less linear than we have convinced ourselves it is”

An interview with playwright Lisa D'Amour
by Walter Bilderback

You came to national attention as a playwright with DETROIT. You've described CHEROKEE as a companion piece to DETROIT: how so?  

DETROIT deals with two couples who feel incredibly at odds with their suburban environment.  The two women in the play long to go camping, but they have absolutely no camping skills, to the point that when they try to drive to the campground, they get lost and wind up right back at home.  I wrote CHEROKEE specifically as a “camping play”.   If DETROIT is about being trapped in the suburbs, CHEROKEE is about trying to get back to nature, start from scratch in order to see what you might discover about yourself and your culture.