Four years ago, the Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company literally set in stone a land acknowledgment to the Nacotchtank and Piscataway peoples, etching that into the concrete foundation of its building in Penn Quarter.
The action, as Artistic Director Maria Manuela Goyanes put it in a release from 2021, represents “a commitment to honor our local Native community as well as present, produce, and support Indigenous artists in the theatre.”
Mohegan theatermaker Madeline Sayet has been the most prominent of Indigenous artists recently supported by Woolly. The company partnered with the Folger Shakespeare Library to produce Sayet and her solo show Where We Belong, resulting in both a filmed version of the work, offered as a paid digital livestream in 2021, and an ongoing national tour of the stage production, directed by Mei Ann Teo.
The tour will include a live D.C. run of the show presented at the Folger sometime next year, with dates to be announced.
To supplement that national tour and also further demonstrate its commitment to Indigenous artists and communities, Woolly has planned a free Indigenous arts showcase for later this month. The showcase is also a product of the company’s Connectivity initiative.
“Through our Connectivity work, we strive to deepen and create long-standing community relationships through art,” says Kristen Jackson, Woolly’s associate artistic director and also director of Connectivity. “We are grateful and honored to continue building our connection with local Native groups, as well as artists from around the country, by producing this event — and for our Woolly family to have a free opportunity to experience the work of these artists.”
Set for Sunday, Jan. 29, “A Mammoth Showcase: An Interdisciplinary Gathering of Native Artists” is scheduled to kick off and end with the Uptown Singerz. Comprised of male and female singers and several dancers, each representing different tribal nations from all over Indian country, this D.C.-based intertribal Native American group will perform the Native American powwow style of singing, dancing, and drumming.
They’ll be accompanied by Miss Chief Rocka, a proud member of Frog Lake First Nation from Edmonton, Alberta, also known as Angela Miracle Gladue/Lunacee and a lead dancer of The Halluci-Nation, performing a traditional Native Shawl Dance and Hoop Dance.
A major focus of the evening is on the work of Anthony Hudson, a Portland-based writer and artist also billed as “Portland’s premiere drag clown Carla Rossi.”
Two of Hudson’s video installations — Lamp Back and Martyr, or: Your Own Prairie Bonnet Jesus, both exploring themes around injustice and marginalization of Native communities — will be on display in the lobby, with a third video, When It Was Hers, based on a personal poem by Hudson, also factoring into the program as well as a livestream conversation with Hudson.
Another highlight of the showcase is a reading of Ady by Navajo Nation citizen Rhiana Yazzie, an award-winning writer for stage and screen (AMC’s Dark Winds) who is also the founding artistic director of Minnesota’s New Native Theatre. Yazzie will be joined by Regina Victor to present this two-person play about real-life muse Ady Fidelin, a Caribbean dancer and the only Black woman living amongst the surrealist movement artists in France. Exploring the collision of Navajo life and sexuality, the play reading will be directed by Angelisa Gillyard.
The lineup also includes a conversation with Rose Powhatan, a local Native American mixed-media artist, historian, and cultural activist, descended from leaders of the Powhatan Paramountcy, which extends from Virginia to D.C., and co-founder, with her husband, of the Powhatan Museum.
Sunday, Jan. 29, starting at 6 p.m. Performances are in the Rehearsal Hall, 641 D St. NW. Free tickets can be reserved at www.woollymammoth.net or by calling 202-393-3939.
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