Courtesy of the Bluff City Theater
By Annie Rice
In downtown Hannibal, a big city transit bus is driving down the streets. However, it’s not picking up any passengers.
Tales of an Urban Indian is a semi-autobiographical, adult comedy that uses a city bus as its stage. The play is a coming-of-age story about Simon Douglas as he transitions from a Native American reservation to the urban city. At the Bluff City Theater, the performance is centered on Darrell Dennis—the playwright and the only actor in this one man show.
The play originally started in 2009 in Canada with seventy performances on a moving bus. Joe Anderson read Darrell’s play and decided to produce it with the stage as a city bus. In a Vancouver, it was easy, but there is a lack of city transit busses in Hannibal.
Joe acquired a bus in Dallas, Texas, and has kept its appearance the same since it was purchased. Darrell plays about forty characters that represent his childhood including his sassy grandmother and a talking cockroach named Fluffy.
Darrell is from the Shuswap tribe and lived on the Alkali Lake reservation in British Columbia, Canada, for about six years. Darrell decided twelve years ago to write the play because of the common misconceptions of Native Americans in the media.
“It’s a story that I needed to tell not only because it is extraordinary but also because it common,” Darrell says.
Even if there is traffic or bad weather, the bus still maintains its route around downtown Hannibal. Darrell says the hardest part is “keeping my balance and keeping proper timing with the script.”
Because of the popularity, Urban Indian has added shows until August 10. However, actor Herbie Barnes has replaced Darrell while he pursues a television pilot in Toronto.
“The audience is going to be in excellent hands,” Darrell says.
Joe wants to add more shows in the future and talks about the possibility of having a nationwide bus tour.