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Larissa FastHorse is a Native American (Sicangu Lakota) playwright and choreographer based in Santa Monica. FastHorse grew up in South Dakota, where she began her career as a ballet dancer and choreographer but was forced into an early retirement after ten years of dancing due to an injury. Returning to an early interest in writing, she became involved in Native American drama, especially the Native American film community. Later she began writing and directing her own plays, several of which are published through Samuel French (a Concord Theatricals Company) and Dramatic Publishing. With playwright and performer Ty Defoe, FastHorse co-founded Indigenous Direction, a "a consulting firm that helps organizations and individuals who want to create accurate work by, for and with Indigenous peoples." Indigenous Direction's clients include the Guthrie Theater. FastHorse is the vice chair of the Theatre Communications Group, which is the national organization for the American theatre that offers its members networking and knowledge-building opportunities through conferences, events, research, and communications.
FastHorse was a delegate in 2000 to the United Nations in Geneva, where she spoke on the power film can have for Indigenous peoples. FastHorse then chose to broaden her experience and shifted from a career as a dancer and choreographer, to feature television and film development.
FastHorse worked for Universal Pictures before joining Latham Entertainment at Paramount as a creative executive; she produced two short films, The Migration and A Final Wish, before again switching focus, this time from television and film production to writing and directing.
While writing and working on many projects of her own making, FastHorse also served as a panelist for The Film and Video Fellowships which was formerly named the Rockefeller Fellowship. In addition to the Film and Video Fellowships, she has been involved with many other networks and theatre companies: she has written commissioned pieces for the Alter Theatre in San Rafael, CA; Cornerstone Theatre Company; and Native Voices at the Autry both located in Los Angeles, CA, as well as the Children's Theatre Company in Minneapolis, MN; the Kennedy Center for Young Audiences in Washington, D.C.; and for Mountainside Theater in Cherokee, N.C. She has developed new plays with the Arizona Theatre Company, Tucson, AZ; the Center Theatre Group Writer's Workshop, Los Angeles, CA; and Berkeley Rep's Ground Floor, Berkeley, CA. Her play Urban Rez, created with Cornerstone Theater, portrays the experience of Indigenous people in Los Angeles County, home to the U.S.'s second-largest Indigenous population. The Thanksgiving Play was begun with a fellowship from the Guthrie Theater and developed through readings including at DC's Center Stage Play Lab in 2016; it was produced by Artists Repertory Theatre in Oregon in April 2018. Both The Thanksgiving Play in 2017 and What Would Crazy Horse Do? in 2014 were featured on the annual "Kilroys' List" of "recommended un- and underproduced new plays by female and trans authors of color." What Would Crazy Horse Do?, a comedy inspired by historical interest by the KKK in collaborations with Indigenous groups, was featured in the Lilly Awards' 2015 reading series with performers Emily Bergl, Jesse Perez, and Madeline Sayet. The Thanksgiving Play also secured FastHorse's off-Broadway playwright debut, with an October 2018 production announced by Playwrights Horizons, directed by Moritz von Stuelpnagel and starring Margo Seibert, Jennifer Bareilles, Jeffrey Bean, and Greg Keller.
As part of her production contract as a playwright, FastHorse requires that the theatre hire at least one other Indigenous artist for the production, and showcase at least one other Indigenous artist's work in the building.
Honors and awards
- FastHorse completed a 2006 fellowship from Fox Diversity Writer's Initiative Programs
- recipient of the 2015-2016 Joe Dowling Annaghmakerig Fellowship Award
- National Endowment for the Arts Distinguished New Play Development Grant
- AATE Distinguished Play Award
- William Inge Center for the Arts Playwriting Residency
- Sundance Institute-Ford Foundation Fellowship
- Aurand Harris Fellowship
- member of the Center Theatre Group Writer’s Workshop in 2011-2012 
- Two for New Works grant recipient
- National Geographic Seed Grant 
- PEN/USA Literary Award for Drama
- Delegate to the UN in Geneva
- Center Stage's Wright Now, Play Later Project, 2016
- Meeting Mom is an original short story about FastHorse's feelings after meeting her birthmother for the first time.
- Average Family was a piece commissioned by the Children's Theater Company.
- Fancy Dancer was also based on FastHorse's life, won FastHorse the 2010 National Endowment for the Arts Distinguishing New Play Development Grant. It was not directed by FastHorse, however, but instead by Peter Brosius.
- Lazarus Rises was able to run a staged reading funded by the Sundance Institute/ Ford Foundation Fellowship and Grant. Lazarus Rises is an autobiographical metaphor that follows three differently disabled Native Americans veterans as they adventure across the state of South Dakota. Surprisingly enough, the blind man is behind the wheel.
- Urban Rez is a community-engaged production that was created by FastHorse in collaboration with members of the Native American community of Los Angeles.
- Teaching Disco Square Dancing to Our Elders: A Class Presentation was the first of three commission with the Native Voices at the Autry in Los Angeles.
- Cherokee Family Reunion premiered in July 2012 at the Alter Theatre in association with the Cherokee Historical Association.
- A Dancing People was commissioned by the Kennedy Center Theatre for Young Audiences. The play brings together writing backgrounds as well as dance to blend together spoken words and dancing movements.
- Hunka was invited to be a part of the Arizona Theatre Company's Inaugural Cafe Bohemia season.
- The Thanksgiving Play
- What Would Crazy Horse Do?
- Native Nation
- Cow Pie Bingo Commissioned and produced by Alter Theatre 2018
- Editors, American Theatre (2015-09-16). "Larissa FastHorse Receives Fellowship From the Guthrie". AMERICAN THEATRE. Retrieved 2016-05-08.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
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- MindLabs.net, Anne Shuff @. "Plays for Young Audiences". playsforyoungaudiences.org. Retrieved 2016-05-09.
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- Group, TCG: Theatre Communications. "2017 Fall Forum on Governance: Turning the Tide". www.tcg.org. Retrieved 2018-09-04.
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- "Larissa FastHorse". IMDb. Retrieved 2018-09-16.
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- "An Interview with Playwright Larissa FastHorse - DC Metro Theater Arts". DC Metro Theater Arts. 2016-10-10. Retrieved 2018-09-04.
- Benson, Mitchel (2018-07-05). "'Thanksgiving Play' gone off the rails? That's the genius in Capital Stage's comedy". The Sacramento Bee. ISSN 0890-5738. Retrieved 2018-09-19.
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- "Native Americans, The KKK And Keeping The 'Blood Pure'". NPR.org. Retrieved 2018-09-04.
- Uno, Roberta (2017-09-14). Contemporary Plays by Women of Color: An Anthology. Routledge. pp. xx. ISBN 9781317280446.
- Kang, Inkoo (2015-03-05). "America Ferrera, Kate Mulgrew, Emily Bergl to Read 3 Plays from Lilly Awards' Kilroys' List". IndieWire. Retrieved 2018-09-04.
- "Larissa FastHorse's The Thanksgiving Play Finds Its Cast Off-Broadway | Playbill". Playbill. 12 September 2018. Retrieved 2018-09-16.
- "Larissa FastHorse - Playwright/Choreographer". HoganHorse Studio. Retrieved 2019-12-13.
- Brosius, Peter; Adams, Elissa (2011). The Face of America: Plays for Young People. U of Minnesota Press. pp. xi. ISBN 9781452932934.
- "Urban Rez: Playwright Larissa FastHorse on the Urban Indian Experience". KCET. 2016-03-19. Retrieved 2016-05-09.
- Miller, Daryl H. (2008-02-11). "Tender truths set to do-si-do disco". Los Angeles Times. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved 2018-09-19.
- Bowling, Caitlin. "New outdoor drama debuts at Cherokee's Mountainside Theater". Smoky Mountain News. Retrieved 2018-09-19.
- "Theater review: 'Landless' tells tales with a social bent". SFGate. 2015-01-11. Retrieved 2018-09-19.
- ACENA, TJ (April 10, 2018). "About that turkey of a play ..." Oregon ArtsWatch. Retrieved 2018-09-19.
- FastHorse, Larissa (2018). "What Would Crazy Horse Do?". Contemporary plays by women of color : an anthology. Uno, Roberta, 1956- (Second ed.). London: Routledge. ISBN 9781138189454. OCLC 989726525.
- "Larissa Theater Resume". HoganHorse Studio. Retrieved 2019-12-13.
- "Larissa Theater Resume". HoganHorse Studio. Retrieved 2019-12-13.