FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
MATERIAL WITNESS AT RED HOUSE ARTS CENTER
Red House Arts Center is proud to host Spiderwoman Theater as part of its 2015 Artists in Residence Series. The company will be housed at Redhouse for two weeks in which they will further develop and perform their latest show, Material Witness. Performances will take place in the theatre on February 19, 20, and 21.
Material Witness is centered on personal and family stories of violence and the healing journeys of Indigenous women. The piece will explore violence and focus on stories of healing. It is a story of positivity, hope and humor, of Indigenous women who have personally experienced inconceivable violence and who are now on the other side, moving forward. The name Material Witness evokes the legacy of our histories, how they intersect and how our societies that have been ripped apart, are being woven together again.
Spiderwoman Theater’s work bridges traditional cultural practice and contemporary Western theater. This has given rise to a recognized Indigenous performance practice recognized around the world. The company offers exceptional theatre performance and training which address cultural, social and political issues of concern to the Indigenous and women’s communities. Spiderwoman Theater has pioneered the use of storyweaving, which encompasses story and text, language, dance, movement, music, sound and image Through storyweaving, where the elements are layered and woven together, the narrative for our productions and a training and performance framework for Indigenous actors, dancers and singers is created.
Among the founding members of the company are Kuna/Rappahannock sisters: Lisa Mayo, Gloria Miguel, and Muriel Miguel. The group has received honorary Doctorates of Fine Arts from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio for their life’s work in theater, have received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Women’s Caucus for Art and have been awarded an Otto René Castillo Award for Political Theatre.
Material Witness is a collaboration with Aanmitaagzi, a professional multi-disciplinary arts company from Nipissing First Nation, Ontario. Aanmitaagzi provides educational, land based, and community focused arts activities. They have been investigating and practicing contemporary arts and its relationship to historic indigenous arts and worldview. They carry forward the legacy of intergenerational art-making which engages professional artists and community. Aanmitaagzi produces arts festivals, theatre productions, and projects which carry forward these historic practices in meaningful ways.
Material Witness will be directed by director, choreographer, actor and playwright Muriel Miguel (Kuna/ Rappahannock). Members of the acting ensemble include actor and writer, Cherish Violet Blood (Blackfoot); actor, dancer and Artistic Director of Leaf Arrow Native American Storytellers, Donna Couteau (Sac and Fox); actor and playwright, Gloria Miguel; Tanis Parenteau (Métis/ Cree) a film, theatre, television and voiceover actor; choreographer and dancer/theatre artist, and Co-Artistic Director of Aanmitaagzi, Penny Couchie (Anishinaabe), and performer, playwright, and theatre creator, Angela Loft (Mohawk).
Also in residence will be scenographer, Karmenlara Ely, the Artistic Director of Acting at the Norwegian Theater Academy in Fredrikstad, Norway; Scenic Designer, Soni Moreno (Maya/Apache/Yacqui); Co-Artistic Director of Aanmitaagzi and assistant director, Sid Bobb (Sto:lo).
About Red House Arts Center: Red House Arts Center is a nonprofit, multi-arts organization dedicated to the production and presentation of interdisciplinary works, new theatre, music, visual art, and is a regional provider of community based arts education. Red House supports the creative process by providing a unique platform for regional, national and international artistic expressions. Through our public programs and community engagement initiatives, Red House aims to stimulate cultural activities and contribute to community development throughout Central New York. For more information visit www.theredhouse.org.
Material Witness, formerly Women in Violence II, brings together stories surrounding violence and Indigenous women, from the show’s performers and the workshop participants from North Bay and New York.
This project is a re-investigation of Spiderwoman Theatre’s inaugural performance, Women in Violence, nearly forty years ago. Women in Violence, touring both the U.S. and Europe, was a groundbreaking piece from one of Indigenous country’s most prolific company’s.
Please join us for our workshop showing, and talk-back session followed by a reception with refreshments. For more information please call Sid Bobb at 705-474-2227.
(Kuna/Rappahannock) is a founding member and Artistic Director of Spiderwoman Theater, the longest running Native American women’s theater company in North America. Muriel studied modern dance with Alwin Nickolai, Erick Hawkins and Jean Erdman. She was an original member of Joseph Chaikin’s Open Theater where she performed in the groundbreaking works: Terminal, The Serpent, Mere Ubu and Viet Rock.
She choreographed Throw Away Kids and She Knew She Was She at the Banff Centre for the Arts. She directed More than Feathers and Beads with Murielle Borst; The Scrubbing Project with Turtle Gals Performance Ensemble in Toronto and Evening in Paris with Raven Spirit Dance Company in Vancouver. As an actor, she was the Mary Deity in the off-Broadway hit, Taylor Mac’s Lily’s Revenge. She created the role of Philomena Moosetail in The Rez Sisters, Aunt Shadie in The Unnatural and Accidental Women by Marie Clements and Spirit Woman in BONES: An Aboriginal Dance Opera. She has created one woman shows Hot’ N’ Soft I and II, Trail of the Otter and most recently Red Mother, which she performed in Montreal this June at the NYU Hemispheric Institute’s Encuentro
Muriel was an Assistant Professor of Drama at Bard College. She teaches and directs a yearly production at the Centre for Indigenous Theatre (CIT) which is created using Spiderwoman’s storyweaving methodology. She is also Program Director for CIT’s three week summer intensive. She was a Program Director for the Aboriginal Dance Program at The Banff Centre and an instructor there for seven years. In 2013, Muriel facilitated a three week workshop with first year acting students at The Norwegian Theatre Academy in Fredrikstad, Norway.
Muriel has been awarded an honorary Doctorate in Fine Arts from Miami University in Oxford, OH and has been profiled in the book American Women Stage Directors of the 20th Century. In 2013, Spiderwoman Theater received the prestigious Otto René Castillo Award for Political Theatre in New York City. Muriel sits on the American Indian Community House’s Board of Directors.
Her plays Trail of the Otter and Hot ‘n’ Soft, have been published by Playwrights Canada Press in Toronto. She is currently at work on Spiderwoman Theater’s latest project, Violence-The Next Generation.
Deborah Ratelle-Project Manager
Deborah is the Managing Director of Two Spirit Productions and Management Consultant with Spiderwoman Theater in New York City. She has worked as a production manager and stage manager for Native Earth Performing Arts and The Centre for Indigenous Theatre in Toronto. At The Banff Centre, she was Program Manager for the Aboriginal Dance Program until 2003 and the coordinator of the Playwrights Colony for 15 years. Stage Management credits include: The Gala Performance for the opening of the Nunavut Territory in 1999; The Unnatural and Accidental Women; BONES: An Aboriginal Dance Opera and The Scrubbing Project. She was Program Manager for Indigenous Performance Initiatives and an instructor of Stagecraft at Indigenous Performance Studies at Trent University in Peterborough.
Spiderwoman Theater is based in New York City and all of our theater productions, training and community-based outreach activities are rooted in an urban Indigenous sensibility. For the last thirty-eight years, our body of work has addressed critical cultural, social and political issues in the Indigenous and women’s communities. We use storytelling, in both traditional and contemporary forms to bridge traditional cultural practice and contemporary Western theater. Our work is informed by traditional artistic expression, teaching and values and with our production and outreach activities, we create an environment that fosters cultural exchange between artists, the community and audience members.
Spiderwoman Theater takes its name from the creation goddess Spiderwoman who taught the people to weave. We call the technique of creating our theatrical pieces, story weaving, where we imagine, write and perform personal and traditional stories that are intertwined with movement, text, sound, music and visual images. This weaving of stories is the foundation upon which we build Spiderwoman productions and creates a framework for our training and outreach activities.
Aanmitaagzi’s Dine, Darn and Dance! We are holding our “Dine, Darn and Dance” event every Wednesday starting at 5pm. DDD is an evening of fun, food and all sorts of arts activities. This is a potluck event so bring whatever you want to share with everyone and be ready to explain recipes for all those with allergies. We’re experimenting with all sorts of new interdisciplinary workshops this year and would love it if you can make it out. Everyone is welcome! Note: If you can’t get a potluck dish to bring, not a big deal, we are more interested in your arts enthusiasm than your contribution.