Redlands playwright

Isabelle Madrigal

A Native American story that already has touched many hearts in Banning and beyond, written by a Cahuilla teenager, will be performed in Redlands on Saturday, Aug. 3.

“Menil and her Heart” has support from a $5,000 grant that 17-year-old playwright Isabella Madrigal and her sister received to support work in reviving Native American cultural storytelling.

The nonprofit Dorothy Ramon Learning Center partnered with the young playwright earlier this year to host rehearsals and workshops leading to a premier performance at the Center in Banning.

The play earned Madrigal a Gold Level award, the highest honor a Girl Scout can achieve.

The Orange County-based Dragon Kim Foundation, offered a fellowship of up to $5,000 to Madrigal and her 15-year-old sister, Sophia to help the teens realize their vision of cultural storytelling.

The sisters have been leading rehearsals and participating in workshops at Dorothy Ramon Learning Center in Banning for months.

The cast includes locals such as 82-year-old Ernest Siva, Morongo Reservation’s cultural adviser and historian, and president of Dorothy Ramon Learning Center.

The public is invited to a free performance of “Menil and her Heart” at 7 p.m. Aug. 3 at the Glen Wallichs Theater at the University of Redlands.

Another free public performance is scheduled at Sherman Indian School in Riverside on Aug. 24 at 7 p.m.

Isabella and Sophia Madrigal, of Temecula, are of Cahuilla and Chippewa descent, and have been active in their indigenous community since an early age.

As a young actress, Madrigal said she became aware of the lack of Native representation in the arts.

The Madrigals began researching traditional Cahuilla stories in order to uncover these erased but vital stories.


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