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  • Writer's pictureJoey Amato

The Indiana Repertory Theatre opens the New Year in the Old West

After producing the Midwest premiere of Pearl Cleage’s Flyin’ West in 1994, the Indiana Repertory Theatre will bring back this story of sisterhood, history, and perseverance this month as part of its 50th Anniversary Season. Directed by Raelle Myrick-Hodges, the show will run on the OneAmerica Mainstage January 11 – February 4, 2023. This is the second of two productions this season that is part of the INclusion Series, which celebrates diverse storytelling and hidden stories of our shared history.

“Producing Pearl Cleage’s work this 50th anniversary season is both intentional and celebratory. Returning to Flyin’ West is to reinvestigate a work that has now become a classic and has only gained in stature, eloquence, and community need,” said Margot Lacy Eccles Artistic Director Janet Allen. “I am excited to have Raelle return to the IRT during my final season; her refreshing approach to the play reminds us that art must always be multi-faceted in its communication: it reminds us of who we have been, who we can be, and how the narrative of this country must change for the better.”

Set in the now-historic town of Nicodemus, Kansas, 35 years after the Emancipation Proclamation, Flyin’ West reveals a little-known chapter in American history–the creation of all-Black towns after the Homestead Act was passed. In fact, Indiana once was home to at least 30 of these settlements established in the decades between 1820 and 1850.

The play follows four brave African American women homesteaders and pioneers as they fight a harsh and unforgiving wilderness and work hard to build better lives for themselves. Their courage is tested when an unexpected and deadly threat invades their home in this surprising story set in the Old West.

“Although the characters in the play are fictious, Pearl Cleage’s story elements—struggling to make a home, the desire to protect family and legacy, the need to find love—resonate both with our shared American history and with our contemporary American life,” Director Raelle Myrick-Hodges said. “While the play is subtle in its conversation with history, it is an organic portrayal of the American belief in change and the American drive to stand up for what we believe in.”

The IRT will host multiple Community Conversations and Talk Backs during the production. Led by the Director of Inclusion and Community Partnerships Devon Ginn, the IRT is also planning to launch a new podcast during Flyin’ West, which will share in-depth discussions, reflections, and insights into the play, its themes, and related experiences.


WHERE: Indiana Repertory Theatre, 140 W. Washington Street, OneAmerica Mainstage

RUN DATES: January 11 – February 4, various times. Flyin’ West is approximately 2 hours and 20 minutes, including a 15-minute intermission. Tickets and performance schedule available at Flyin' West contains profanity, racial and ethnic slurs, and frank discussions about slavery and murder. Recommended for patrons 9th grade and above.

TICKETS: Tickets start at $25. Click to buy.

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