Puppetry and Native Actors: ‘Ajijaak on Turtle Island’

“Lovers of the Jim Henson’s muppet’s legacy and theatrical-based stories of the Ojibwe, Lakota, and Cherokee Nation, can look forward to a performance of Ajijaak on Turtle Island.  The play, directed by Heather Henson and Ty Defoe, is produced by Ibex Puppetry, a company founded in 2000 by Heather Henson, the daughter of the iconic muppets creator Jim Henson.” V. Schilling, ICTMN

A scene from ‘Ajijaak on Turtle Island’ includes a massive crane puppet meeting with a large turtle.ICTMN

Excerpt: Graceful Puppetry and Native Actors Combine in ‘Ajijaak on Turtle Island, By V, Schilling, ICTMN

“The overview of Ajijaack on Turtle Island is described on the Philadelphia-based Kimmel Center website as follows:

In this coming of age story, follow our hero, Ajijaack as she learns lessons along the way from her mentors and friends: the buffalo, deer, frog, dragonfly, coyote, and a turtle activist family. On her heroic journey, pieces of the Ojibwe, Lakota, and Cherokee Nations are highlighted along with cultural rituals and practices of Indigenous Peoples’ on Turtle Island (North America). Reflecting our connectedness with all of creation, this immersive story is told through rituals and puppets, projections and kites, aerial antics and life-sized maps. Tracing the tragedies befalling cranes, of disappearing forests and lakes, this story celebrates the richness of indigenous cultures that honor and protect these majestic birds.

Tony Enos and Joan Henry actors in the film. ICTMN

Tony Enos, a two spirit Cherokee actor told Indian Country Today he was thrilled to be a part of Ajijaak on Turtle Island and has continuously marveled at the creativity of the play. He also said he was grateful for the cultural respect paid to the Native story.

‘So much care was taken in making sure traditional elements were respected and woven properly into the fabric of the show. We wanted to walk through the show with honor and offer audiences a special message as Native and Indigenous individuals working to change native theater. The show is beautiful and it’s message simple: ‘Love and protect our Mother Earth, care for yourself and each other and never give up,’ said Enos.’

Tony Enos, one of the Native actors in ‘Ajijaack on Turtle Island,’ maneuvers a coyote made entirely of corn husks.

Joan Henry (Cherokee/Nde’/Arawaka) said the indigenous nature of the play, which included storytelling, relations to Mother Earth, animals, and plants was important.  ‘The endangered and revered Whooping Crane introduces audiences to contemporary Native people in real time, with real concerns.’

Champion hoop dancer, writer, and director Ty Defoe. On the right side of this image, Defoe performs a healing crane dance in ‘Ajijaack On Turtle Island

Actor Wen Jeng said  ‘I really don’t know how to describe Ajijaack on Turtle Island other than some kind of beautiful, some kind of magic,’ while the production’s stage manager called the play,  ‘a magical and beautiful flight.”

For performance information and tickets to Ajijaak on Turtle Island, visit the following sites:

Kimmel Center in Partnership with IPAY

300 S Broad St. Philadelphia, PA 19102

IBEX Puppetry: Ajijaack on Turtle Island

Saturday – Jan 27, 2018 – 7:00 PM

FREE TICKETS HERE

La MaMa Theatre Ellen Stewart Theatre

66 East 4th St, New York, NY 10003

February 8, 2018 – February 18, 2018

Thursday to Saturday at 7pm; Sunday at 2pm

$25 Adult Tickets; $20 Students/Seniors (plus $1 Facility Fee)

BUY TICKETS HERE

 

Category: Culture