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By Mary Kathryn Nagle
Directed by Molly Smith

January 12 — February 18, 2018
Kreeger Theater

Some wounds refuse to heal. Mary Kathryn Nagle’s daring new work, which debuts as the fourth production in Arena Stage’s Power Plays initiative, travels the intersections of personal and political truths, historic and present struggles. Sarah Ridge Polson, a young Cherokee lawyer fighting to restore her Nation’s jurisdiction, must confront the ever-present ghosts of her grandfathers. With shadows stretching from 1830s Cherokee Nation (now present-day Georgia) and Andrew Jackson’s White House to the Cherokee Nation in present-day Oklahoma, Sovereignty asks how high the flames of anger can rise before they ultimately consume the truth.

Commissioning support for Sovereignty provided by Drs. Elliot and Lily Gardner Feldman and BakerHostetler as part of Arena Stage’s Women’s Voices Power Play Cycle.

Additional Commissioning support provided by The Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation’s Women Playwrights Commissioning Program.


KALANI QUEYPO (John Ridge) makes his Arena Stage debut. He is a founding member of SAG-AFTRA’s National Native American Committee and serves on the Advisory Council for Native Voices Theater at the Autry Museum of the American West. Before moving to L.A., Kalani trained in New York and was featured on stages all over the country including Goodspeed, Trinity Repertory, Mark Taper Forum, The Wilma Theater and The Ordway. Kalani has appeared in Terrence Malick’s Oscar Award nominated The New World and Steven Spielberg’s Emmy Award-winning Into the West and Slow West (Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize). TV credits include Mad Men, Nurse Jackie, Bones, Hawaii Five-0 and a critically-acclaimed performance as Squanto in Saints & Strangers. Kalani is currently shooting a second season of Jamestown with the producers of Downton Abbey.

Additional casting to be announced at a later date.


MARY KATHRYN NAGLE (Playwright) is an enrolled citizen of the Cherokee Nation. She currently serves as the executive director of the Yale Indigenous Performing Arts Program. She is also a partner at Pipestem Law, P.C., where she works to protect tribal sovereignty and the inherent right of Indian Nations to protect their women and children from domestic violence and sexual assault. She has authored numerous briefs in federal appellate courts, including the United States Supreme Court. She has received commissions from Arena Stage, The Rose Theater in Omaha, Nebraska, Portland Center Stage and Denver Center. Her other plays include Manahatta, Diamonds, Waaxe’s Law, Sliver of a Full Moon, My Father’s Bones, Miss Lead and Fairly Traceable.

MOLLY SMITH (Director) has served as Artistic Director since 1998. Her more than 30 directing credits at Arena Stage include Carousel, Oliver!, The Originalist, Fiddler on the Roof, Camp David, Mother Courage and Her Children, Oklahoma!, A Moon for the Misbegotten, My Fair Lady, The Great White Hope, The Music Man, Orpheus Descending, Legacy of Light, The Women of Brewster Place, Cabaret, South Pacific, Agamemnon and His Daughters, All My Sons and How I Learned to Drive. She most recently directed Our Town at Canada’s Shaw Festival. Her directorial work has also been seen at The Old Globe, Asolo Repertory, Berkeley Repertory, Trinity Repertory, Toronto’s Tarragon Theatre, Montreal’s Centaur Theatre and Perseverance Theater in Juneau, Alaska, which she founded and ran from 1979-1998. Molly has been a leader in new play development for over 30 years. She is a great believer in first, second and third productions of new work and has championed projects including How I Learned to Drive; Passion Play, a cycle; Next to Normal; and Dear Evan Hansen. She has worked alongside playwrights Sarah Ruhl, Paula Vogel, Wendy Wasserstein, Lawrence Wright, Karen Zacarías, John Murrell, Eric Coble, Charles Randolph-Wright and many others. She led the re-invention of Arena Stage, focusing on the architecture and creation of the Mead Center for American Theater and positioning Arena Stage as a national center for American artists. During her time with the company, Arena Stage has workshopped more than 100 productions, produced 39 world premieres, staged numerous second and third productions and been an important part of nurturing nine projects that went on to have a life on Broadway. In 2014, Molly made her Broadway debut directing The Velocity of Autumn, following its critically acclaimed run at Arena Stage. She was awarded honorary doctorates from American University and Towson University.


Post-Show Discussions

January 31, 2018 – 12:00 p.m.
February 6, 2018 – 7:30 p.m.
February 7, 2018 – 12:00 p.m.
February 13, 2018 – 12:00 p.m.
February 15, 2018 – 8:00 p.m.


Audio Described

January 27, 2018 – 2:00 p.m.

Open Captioned

February 1, 2018 – 8:00 p.m.
February 14, 2018 – 7:30 p.m.
February 17, 2018 – 2:00 p.m.