Posts Tagged ‘Mentor Artists Playwrights Project’

Mentor Artists–Getting the Word Out

Mentor Artists Playwrights Project

Mentor Artists Playwrights Project

This is the group with which I have worked in Native American communities for these past years–and what gave birth to my Native Youth Documentary film project. These kids have voices that they don’t even recognize as powerful, stories they don’t realize the world needs to hear. The work is unlocking all of that pent up brilliance. If I could give you even the tiniest nugget of what it is to sit down and mentor, one-on-one with these young people, you, too, would recognize it as priceless.

Even as the financial and housing markets begin to revive, let me assure you, what hasn’t come back is federal funding…for anything. While most of us haven’t noticed the sequester as anything other than media bluster….except for a day or two of delayed flights that was quickly remedied…the Native American population continues to have dollars dry up for important resources. The resource with which I most concern myself is education. The challenges for a kid finishing high school on a reservation can be enormous, so when a project comes along like the Mentor Artists Playwrights Project (MAPP), that specifically addresses the most marginalized among an already marginalized community, and sparks tremendous passion and creativity, we must pay attention.

Please click on the link and visit the MAPP fundraising campaign, and learn more. Also check out the website and facebook page. Consider a donation to support this huge work. Even if your wallet is a bit light these days, “like” the facebook page, re-post the information to your community, spread the word. This is about you becoming a part of a community that refuses to let young people fall through the cracks. Be the net by helping others grow aware.

Rez Flicks–Help Fund Film by Native American Youth

I am launching this very fast, eleventh-hour, fundraising campaign for creative education, quite purposefully, on Columbus Day. It is interesting how now that we are back in California, it is verboten to even mention Columbus or Columbus Day, he being such an anti-hero.

This is for the Native American youth volunteer project I’ve been doing for years with the kids of the Nez Perce tribe in Lapwai, ID—this year…in less than 2 weeks (I fly to Idaho October 20!!!???) I am launching a parallel program to run side-by-side with the playwriting mentoring I have done in the past: Mentor Artists Playwrights Project–MAPP.

I will be putting simple digital camcorders in the hands of 3 “troubled” tribal youth so they can record life in their community and interview tribal elders, mentors, their fellow students doing the simultaneous playwriting workshops, teachers, graduates, other community members…by the end of the intensive learning burst (5 days after school and all day Saturday) we will have enough student-generated footage to be cut together and create a short film about life on the reservation: “Rez Flicks”

I will also, in this short time period, be teaching them how to set up a blog for the project so they can see, in spite of often believing they have no voice or story worth hearing, the whole world can listen.

I just need to raise money for the three cameras (and clip-on microphones, tabletop tripods, extra memory cards) for the kids. These cameras will be used more in the future with programs in other tribes/reservations throughout the nation and Canada.

I have fund-raised before for wonderful projects around the world–but this one is mine, and such a part of my heart. You should feel zero pressure to contribute, but I hope you’ll peruse the campaign site just to learn a little more about what I’m doing, and if you have the opportunity to share with your friends/networks, send them the link ( to spread the word.

Spreading the word, amplifying voices, sharing story, is what it is all about. I hope you’ll consider playing a part.

Native Media: International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples

Today is the United Nations declared International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, a day celebrated each year on August 9, and this year dedicated to “Indigenous Media, Empowering Indigenous Voices.” I count myself so blessed to have the opportunity to work with Native American youth, mentoring in playwriting and creativity, as together we discover young, marginalized voices…so this theme is particularly close to me (see lots of previous posts about MAPP: Mentor Artists Playwrights Project).

Sourcing news and current events directly from Native media is a great way to keep your finger on the pulse of our nation’s first people. Some (by no means all) online resources for Indigenous Media in the US are (links below):

Indian Country Today Media Network

American Indian News Service

Native American Times

The Circle

You can also find spectacular radio stations online and across the country broadcasting music, talk, and news that matters to tribal communities. Take some time to break away from the stronghold of TV networks and mainstream newspapers, to see how closely your priorities jibe with native community concerns near where you live. It’s a perspective we miss, or can tragically even forget is there…don’t turn your back, dig down and learn.


I’ve known Tom Kellogg for several years—was lucky enough to work with him creatively when I was living in Los Angeles, and recently, the crazy small world of facebook made our worlds once again intersect. I had been dimly aware, over the years, of his playwright/arts work with at-risk kids, but didn’t know many details. I knew the kids, and his colleagues, were lucky to work with him—not many are as giving and committed as he, and even fewer get such joy from wrestling with big issues and figuring out how to see the world with fresh eyes. It cracks your world open to be around Tom as he has this energy of, “Well, sure, that’s the way you understand your life…but how about if you look at it like this?” That’s a real gift to the rest of us.

Thomas Dean Kellogg (Cherokee, Choctaw, Celtic, Slavic) is the Artistic Director and Founder of MAPP and theatre fofo. He has designed, developed, and implemented many successful playwriting/ mentoring programs throughout North America over the better part of the past two decades while pursuing his other passion of producing, writing, and directing theatre. He continues to travel nationally and internationally, to conduct his mentored writing workshops, train artists and educators, and to produce theatre.

The Mentor Artists Playwrights Project (MAPP), is an arts consultancy company that partners with schools and not-for-profit youth development organizations to share Thomas Dean Kellogg’s unique playwriting workshops with young writers and to provide community presentations of the work.

A group of young people, each paired with a mentor actor or writer, participate in a progressive series of intensive playwriting workshops led by Master Artist Thomas Dean Kellogg. With a core emphasis on the importance of the young person’s dreams and aspirations, Kellogg’s method introduces fundamental playwriting tools that explore the use of metaphor, the creation of characters through sensory and emotional work, monologue, dramatic storytelling, and theme. The young people are taught to examine the dynamics of conflict, and write plays where crisis, urgency, and possible consequences are explored.

The process culminates in public staged presentations of the young writers’ original plays by professional actors.

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