Playwrights Katie Hartman and Nick Ryan’s 13-song cycle imagines the ghost of Anna Morgan Faber inhabiting the body of a paranormal scientist and telling her story of hardship on the American frontier in 1867.
From a story perspective, this is a frustrating framework that yet again centres the experience of colonizers and settlers at the expense of the Indigenous people whose land they’re attempting to take by force.
The framework becomes more problematic as the racism against the Cheyenne (in this case) reveals itself in the lyrics of the songs, before Anna is eventually saved by a Cheyenne woman named Little Thunder, falls in love with a Cheyenne man, and realizes the Cheyenne are people, too.
There’s no disputing the beauty of Hartman’s voice or the power of her solo performance—though the music errs on the side of repetitive—but the question I kept coming back to was "Why?" Why another colonizer’s story as the focal point in 2019?