6th Annual YIPAP Festival and The Inagural Misty Upham Award for Young Native Actors

April 23, 2021

The 6th Annual Yale Indigenous Performing Arts Program (YIPAP) New Play Festival will be livestreamed online April 30-May 2nd, via YIPAP’s Facebook page.

YIPAP is thrilled to announce the winner of the 6th Annual Young Native Playwrights Contest is Drew Woodson (Western Shoshone) for his play “Your Friend, Jay Silverheels.” Drew is a theater and performance studies major at UC Berkeley. His play examines some of the experiences of Native actors working in the theater industry today. It will be performed Saturday May 1st at 2PM EST, directed by Tara Moses (Seminole).

This year’s festival also includes readings of new works by Rhiana Yazzie (Navajo) and William S Yellowrobe Jr. (Assiniboine). Rhiana Yazzie’s play “The Nut, the Hermit, The Crow, and the Monk” will be performed at 7 PM EST on Friday April 30th, directed by Jen Olivares (Juaneño Band of Mission Indians) and Yellowrobe’s new comedy “Raising Ma’zaska” will be performed Sunday May 2nd at 3PM directed by YIPAP Director Madeline Sayet (Mohegan).

Each year the YIPAP Festival features performances by professional Native actors alongside Yale students.

We are also so incredibly pleased to announce the winners of the Inaugural Yale Young Native Actors Award for performers under 25. This award will be named in memory of Misty Upham, for her dream of uplifting more Native Youth in the performing arts. We are so excited to honor Misty’s legacy with this annual award celebrating young Native actors. We were so humbled by all of the talent that submitted this year and we hope that every year this award will inspire more and more Native actors to continue to submit and to pursue their dreams. Winners receive a cash prize, performance opportunities, and a physical award. The selection panel for the award was composed of: Mary Kathryn Nagle (Playwright), Delanna Studi (Artistic Director, Native Voices at the Autry), Asa Benally (Designer), Kenny Ramos (Actor), Tara Moses (Playwright/Director), Claire Burke (CSA, Tara Rubin Casting). Thank you so much to everyone who submitted! All the panelists were so excited by the submissions and to work with all of you as your careers unfold. 

There will be an award ceremony on Saturday May 1st at 7:30 PM EST as part of this year’s festival, at which established Native actors Kimberly Guerrero, Sera Lys McArthur, and Delanna Studi will present the awards, and speakers will be featured honoring Misty Upham’s career and legacy. The winner of the inaugural award is Isabella Star Lablanc who is currently filming the first season of “Long Slow Exhale” from Paramount TV Studios and Spectrum Originals.  Isabella has been seen at theaters across the country, including: The Shakespeare Theatre Company in DC; Cincinnati Shakespeare Company; The Jungle Theater; Mixed Blood Theater; Children’s Theater Company; and The Minnesota History Theater.

This year’s winners and finalists are:

Winner (The Misty Upham Award): Isabella Star Lablanc  (Sisseton Wahpeton Dakota)

Finalists: Emery Barrera (Klamath/Lakota) and Emily Preis (Osage)

Honorable Mentions: Lexsy Mckowen (Choctaw) and Benny Wayne Sully (Sicangu Lakota Oyate)

Special Youth Prize (For actors under 18)

Winner: Gia Fisher (Northern Cheyenne)

Finalist: Henry Cargill (Acoma-Pueblo)

Honorable Mention: Caroline Clark (Muscogee (Creek)/Cherokee)

All of the events in this year’s YIPAP Festival will be livestreamed to the Yale Indigenous Performing Arts Program’s Facebook page. We look forward to welcoming everyone back in person for next year’s festival.