San Diego Playwrights

Getting San Diego Playwrights Produced on San Diego Stages

MEASURE FOR MEASURE–An Interview with Randy Reinholz

on May 30, 2014

Randy Reinholz

Tell us about yourself.

I am a proud member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, and the co-founder and Producing Artistic Director of Native Voices at the Autry, the nation’s only Equity theatre company dedicated to the development of new plays by Native American writers. I have directed and produced over 75 plays across the U.S., Canada, and Australia. I am a tenured professor at San Diego State University, where I served as Head of Acting in the School of Theatre, Television, and Film from 1997-2007, and Director of the School from 2007–2012. In 2012, I was named Director of Community Engagement and Innovative Programs for the College of Professional Studies and Fine Arts.



Tell us about your play.

In a nutshell, MEASURE FOR MEASURE is a bit like Blazing Saddles meets Shakespeare. This bawdy adaptation of Shakespeare’s MEASURE FOR MEASURE is set in the Old West in the fictional frontier town of Genoa, Nebraska. An Indian boarding school, Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show and the local town and saloon inhabitants collide over the fate of a young Native American boy unjustly sentenced to death for impregnating an Irish girl.

In particular, the play explores a key issue in Indian country today, which is the contradictory legacy and cultural damage of the Indian boarding school system. Designed by the U.S. government in the late 19th century, Indian boarding schools were meant to assimilate Native American children into Euro-Christian culture. The motto of the boarding school was “Kill the Indian, Save the Man,” and has been described by many as a system of cultural genocide. Although the practice diminished in the mid-20th century, this issue rouses deep emotions even today. A play about this subject seems to want some kind of theatrical distance – so I chose comedy.

What are your challenges? What are your successes?

Challenges – as always, it’s a challenge to carve out the time to write. It’s difficult because it means no distractions and thinking just about the play. I have to miss out on LOTS of other fun stuff when I focus on just the play. The good news is that I’ve been able to explore the history that informs the play– history about the American west and Buffalo Bill. Because of this, the play moved from the mid 1890’s to the mid 1880’s. A great success of this process is that I get to watch Deadwood and Blazing Saddles for research.

What is your next step?

This week, we are adding music to the play. I’m working with composer Nick Spear, who is originally from San Diego and now lives in Montana. (San Diego theatregoers will know Nick and his wife Rebecca from their long-term relationship with Lamb’s Players in Coronado. They performed there for nearly a decade.)  We’re working this week in L.A. with cultural advisers to fuse together music from the American West, France, Ireland, and of course, powwow-style music from the Lakota and Pawnee tribes. We are really looking forward to showing the play to the audiences in L.A. at the Autry and in San Diego at La Jolla Playhouse.

Thank you for talking with us Randy! Good luck with MEASURE FOR MEASURE and the Native Voices Festival of New Plays!

Come see MEASURE FOR MEASURE at La Jolla Playhouse on Sunday, June 1st at 2:00pm! This FREE public staged reading will be followed by a Meet-and-Greet reception with the artists. For more information or reservations, please visit:

Native Voices at La Jolla Playhouse

16th Annual Festival of New Plays

THERE IS NO “I” IN NDN By Jennifer Bobiwash (Ojibway*) Saturday, May 31, 2014, 2:00 p.m.

OUR VOICES WILL BE HEARD By Vera Starbard (Tlingit/Dena’ina*) La Jolla Playhouse: Saturday, May 31, 2014, 5:00 p.m.

Note: A light supper will be provided between the two readings on Saturday.

MEASURE FOR MEASURE Adapted by Randy Reinholz (Choctaw*) La Jolla Playhouse: Sunday, June 2, 2014, 2:00 p.m.

These readings are free to attend, but reservations are strongly encouraged. Please visit to reserve.


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