Spiderwoman Brings MISDEMEANOR DREAM To Abrons Arts Center For 3-night Work-in-Progress Production
Spiderwoman Theater, the legendary downtown New York theatre ensemble, will stage the latest phase in its ambitious "Misdemeanor Dream" project, at New York City's Abrons Arts Center, 466 Grand Street, in work-in-progress performances Thursday through Saturday, February 5, 6, and 7, all at 7:30pm.The collaborative production, part of the @Abrons Series, explores the realm of Native story, magic, and lost language by members of indigenous communities across North America and internationally. Tickets are now on sale via www.abronsartscenter.org. The uniquely process-oriented work, says Spiderwoman co-founder and artistic director Muriel Miguel, "seeks to explore what we, as Indigenous people, have lost, how we reclaim it, and our path to move into a future that is connected, forward-looking, healing, and hopeful." Produced in partnership with Loose Change Productions, "Misdemeanor Dream" brings together a multi-generational ensemble of fourteen performing artists, and four design artists, who plumb personal histories to create a unique exploration of dreams, memory, and multiple facets of indigenous culture. Spiderwoman Theater has been hailed by Public Theatre director Oskar Eustis as "one of the most influential Native Theatre companies in the history of the country." Founded in 1976, the group is lauded for their signature "storyweaving" technique, which layers traditional and contemporary narrative structures with movement, text, sound, and visual images, making bold forays into the realms of gender roles, cultural stereotypes, and family relationships. This is the fourth stage in a five-part process launched in March 2017 at the Stratford Festival in Ontario, Canada, in which members at each juncture, under Miguel's direction, further develop the script and concept. The project will have its world premiere in February 2021 at La MaMa in New York. Developmental readings have taken place in June 2017 at Dixon Place, and in September 2018 at Abrons. Most recently, at a November 2019 workshop on the Nipissing First Nation reserve in Ontario, ensemble members collaboratively designed an installation environment for the piece, which now becomes an integral part of the storytelling process on stage. "Misdemeanor Dream's" co-creators and storyweaving team leaders are director Muriel Miguel; choreographer Penny Couchie, who is co-artistic director of Aanmataagzie in Nipissing; and vocal coach Imelda Villalon. The Installation and set design team are the visual artists Meghan Lozicki Paulin and Sherry Guppy; technical director Stefan Hannigan, and Sid Bobb, who is co-artistic director of Aanmataagzie. The lighting designer is Joyce Liao. "Some stories have never been put out; they are really indigenous," remarks Muriel's sister Gloria Miguel, an original Spiderwoman member and the most senior of the multi-generation ensemble. "I always say that indigenous theatre is like an iceberg; there's more underneath than on top. And 'on top' is just beginning to be explored." Loose Change Productions, who have worked with Spiderwoman since 2009, is dedicated to transnational, transcultural theatre, with a social-justice emphasis. Now in its 43rd consecutive season, the Brooklyn-based Spiderwoman first came onto the New York theatre scene in 1976, when Muriel Miguel was joined by a diverse group of women, including her sisters Gloria Miguel and Lisa Mayo, to form a theater ensemble concerned with freely exploring gender and race identity, and fostering a broadening recognition of the unimaginable effects of cultural elimination perpetrated over centuries. (We are still here!) Contemporary and succeeding generations of downtown theater icons like Bloolips, Taylor Mac, and the Colorado Sisters have cited Spiderwoman as a seminal influence. Starting in the 1980s, the three sisters focused on Native issues. In addition to its experimental performance, throughout its history Spiderwoman, which grew out of the urban Native community centered in Brooklyn in the 1950s, has emphasized the importance of interconnectivity with indigenous communities throughout North America. Many participants in "Misdemeanor Dream" were involved with "Material Witness," produced at La MaMa in 2016. This, similarly, used real-life stories in a collaborative theatre context to explore the urgent problem of violence against women. The NY Times described that production as "poetic ... rowdy and playful, displaying an enormous sense of energy, strength and goodwill." For tickets -- which are $20 for adults, and $16 for students, seniors and the under-employed -- visit www.abronsartscenter.org or for information call 212-598-0400.