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Offscript: Ty Defoe Is Planting the Seeds

We talk to writer/director/trickster Ty Defoe about directing ‘Rent’ for the next generation, building community ties, and moving beyond land acknowledgements. Plus: a check-in with Denver reporter John Moore.

Offscript, American Theatre’s flagship podcast for a number of years, is back as a Facebook Live chat with the magazine’s editors and special guests as well as an audio podcast.

On this episode we talk to the always-busy Ojibwe and Oneida Nations performer and theatremaker Ty Defoe, currently directing a new production of Rent at Houston’s Theatre Under the Stars, playing May 16-28. He reflects on his first time seeing Rent in Chicago in the ’90s, and adds that the musical has a lot to offer a contemporary Texas setting as a kind of “‘queering wild” and a form of political resistance. Part of the creative process, he told us, has involved having candid conversations with teenagers about queer history and the AIDS epidemic as well as curating original Rent memorabilia for display in the lobby.

Some of Ty’s recent projects as a creator include Big City Harmony, QUEERTENDO, Our Words Are Seeds, and For the People. The latter play is being co-written on commission from the Guthrie Theater with Larissa FastHorse, a colleague with whom Defoe co-founded Indigenous Direction, a consulting company that works to amplify the voices of Indigenous people. They recently helped organize the debut of the Wampanoag Tribe’s “People of First Light” float at the 2022 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

To round out the show, the editors also check in with John Moore, senior arts journalist at the Denver Gazette, about his coverage of theatre in the Rocky Mountains.

You can download the episode here and watch the original Facebook chat here. If you have any feedback or suggestions for Offscript, please reach out to

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