OkEq premieres "More Sky" play about gay, indigenous playwright at the Lynn Riggs Theatre

The Lynn Riggs mural outside the Equality Center in Tulsa. Colorpop Art photo.

Echo Theatre Company, along with the Dennis R. Neill Equality Center’s Lynn Riggs Theatre, is set to premiere More Sky: The Story of Lynn Riggs, a play about the life of gay, Cherokee playwright Lynn Riggs. The playwright is perhaps most famous for his play, Green Grow the Lilacs, which became the basis of the musical Oklahoma!.

The show will take place in August at the Lynn Riggs Theatre in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Dennis R. Neill commissioned this world premiere work after meeting playwright Gregory Hinton through the Claremore Museum of History. Hinton has previously written works like Beyond Brokeback, a play that explored the reactions of gay men around the world to the movie Brokeback Mountain. Hinton was chosen as the playwright for his love of old western cowboy culture as well as his LGBTQ+ historical knowledge and identity.

The show is extra special for Oklahomans for Equality, the organization that runs the Dennis R. Neill Equality Center in which the Lynn Riggs Theatre is housed. Last year, in late July, the Lynn Riggs mural outside the Equality Center was vandalized with the word “abomination.” The mural has since been restored and now serves as the poster image for the show.

More Sky is a one-person show about Lynn Riggs’ life using letters, diaries, and other forms of communication found by the author. It is set in his Shelter Island farmhouse in his last stages of life as he shares his correspondence with friends, family, celebrities, and fellow Santa Fe artists over 35 years. The show explores his identities as a Cherokee Native American, a gay man, and as an artist.

Riggs is portrayed by Russ Tallchief, an Osage actor who is descended from famous Osage ballerinas Maria and Marjorie Tallchief. The show is directed by Pat Hobbs, who is also the artistic director of the Third Thursdays in the Rainbow Room series at the Lynn Riggs Theatre.

“It is important to pay tribute to Lynn Riggs,” Hobbs said. “Sure, we have all known that Oklahoma! was based upon Green Grow the Lilacs by Claremore’s Lynn Riggs, but do we really know Lynn?”

More Sky: The Story of Lynn Riggs will play to a limited social-distanced seated crowd of 25 in the Lynn Riggs Theatre on Thursday, August 20, 2020, at 7:00 p.m. Additionally, a Facebook live feed will be provided on Thursday evening, and the show will be taped and edited for future viewing on Oklahoman’s For Equality’s YouTube page.

There is no fee or admission for any of these performances.

The Gayly. 8/2/2020 @ 10:07 a.m. CST.