DURANT — Oklahoma Shakespearean Festival employees and Southeastern Oklahoma State University students Dustin Curry and Tanner Risner were granted the unique opportunity to travel to Washington D.C. June 19-24 to help present the world premiere of “To Us It Wasn’t Code” at the Smithsonian’s annual Choctaw Days.
According to Curry, originally from London, Arkansas, this show was commissioned by the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma to premiere at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian.
This show, written by Dr. Randy Prus and Kathleen Hardgrove, tells the story of the Choctaw Code Talkers, who used their language to transmit messages over radio for the American troops in World War I.
Risner, originally from Durant, said “we were picked for this project after the Choctaw Nation asked Dr. Prus to write the script and asked Professor Hardgrove to direct it. Then, Hardgrove asked Dustin Curry and myself to be part of the project.”
Hardgrove graduated from SOSU and went on to work as a teacher, costume designer, actor and director in various places such as Los Angeles, Las Vegas and New York. Now, she works with Theatre at Southeastern and is leading To Us It Wasn’t Code.
In this play Risner is stage manager and technician for this performance and Curry performs multiple parts.
Risner said, “Working with the Choctaw Nation and the Smithsonian Institute was a fantastic opportunity that taught me a lot about the Choctaw code talkers and about the Choctaw Nation as a whole.”
Curry said he and Tanner have both balanced being active members of the OSF company, while touring across the nation to perform a show that is changing the minds of the individuals who come to see the performance.
“Tanner and I have had to bring a lot of our work with us, as I’m still fielding calls from the office and designing/writing promotional material for the festival,” said Curry, “and we’re both working on lines and will have to catch up when we get back.”
In this OSF season Curry is the First Assistant Press Agent and is playing Romeo in Romeo and Juliet, the Wizard in Once Upon a Mattress and Johnny Wilderman in Game Show. Tanner is playing the Apothecary in Romeo and Juliet and a Knight in Once Upon a Mattress, as well as working as a carpenter in the OSF scene shop.
For more information on the Oklahoma Shakespearean Festival, visit www.oklahomashakes.com.