My brother started his descent into death two years ago. That is about the time I started to write this play. His death was a long and painful ordeal; the image of him lying in a hospital bed without his legs is ingrained in my memory forever. The minute I would leave the hospital I would cry.
I used the play as an escape. Where the idea to include Geronimo came from I do not know. A while back my young son told me he found a line scribbledÂ on a yellow notepad that read “Geronimo comes to visit Jim Morrison.” He thinks this is where my relationship with Geronimo started; however, I don’t remember ever writing it.
Before Geronimo died he was permitted to write his memoirs. As I studied them I started to feel related to him. I felt his stories as if they were mine, his feelings as if they were mine. I started writingÂ feelings and stories from my own life and realized that although we are from totally different times and heritages, our stories sounded the same. So began the journey of An Italian American Indian.
Marco is a divorced Italian playwright living in Hermosa Beach, California, who believes Geronimo’s spirit is trying to contact him to return his stolen bones back to the headwaters of the Gila River. His girlfriend Jaclyn, best friend Todd and teenage kids Nicole, Michael and AngeloÂ think he is crazy. Todd convinces Marco that all he needs is a boys’ night out. After some coaxing they consume peyote bud. During the early stages of this experience Todd and Marco hear someone running around the house. Todd gets spooked and runs to the local tavern for safety. Geronimo appears to Marco. At first Marco can’t believe it, Â butÂ at least in his mind, it seems that Geronimo is real. After several meetings their stories turn into confrontations as Marco finds out the real reason for Geronimo’s visit.
An Italian American is my latest piece of work; its basic premise is to remind us to “appreciate life.” It is also a biography of two people, the great warrior Geronimo and me; both bear our souls without fear in order to find our hearts. Its political premise is also basic. What happened to the Natives with the stripping of their way of life,Â their hearts and minds, is happening, although in a more subtle way, to us in today’s society. Let’s face it, our society wages war on those who dare to think differently or refuse to give up their identity to fit in. We’re keptÂ in control through the use of fear — fear of losing a job,Â a house, a car, a life.
The cast of An Italian American Indian consists of (in order of appearance) Angelo Masino, Tim Davis, Jodi Jacobs, Jacob Parisse, Jonathan D’Acunto, Loree Sobrito, Joseph Running Fox. We performed a reading of the play back in December of last year. Passages from Geronimo’s book ‘Geronimo -His Own Story’ are integrated into the play, and Geronimo’s own wordsÂ are read dramatically. TheÂ play is sponsored by The Hermosa Arts Foundation, which has supported my work for many years.
So ends another journey. My brother Patrick as well as Geronimo will always have a place in my heart.
An Italian American Indian, produced by Angel Vision Productions in association with Hermosa Arts Foundation, opens March 18; plays Fri.-Sat., 7:30 pm; through April 9. Tickets: $15. The 2nd Story Theatre, inside the Hermosa Beach Community Center, 710 Pier Ave., Hermosa Beach; 310.374.9767.
Angelo Masino wrote and directed An Italian American Indian. He has had a number of his plays produced at venues in Hollywood, Torrance and Hermosa Beach. His previous works include No Justice, No Peace; The Beast; The Treehouse; The Runner; The Actor; Old Folks Never Die; Queens, New York; Straight Time; The Honeymooners; The Road Home; With the Help of the Dragon; Reunion and Mary’s Dream.