Written and performed by
Madeline Sayet, and produced in association with Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company
Following a world premiere film adaptation in 2021 and a successful 2022-23 national tour, Folger Theatre, in association with Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, announces the return of Where We Belong, written and performed by Madeline Sayet and directed by Mei Ann Teo. Where We Belong is on stage at Folger Theatre February 15 – March 10, 2024. Tickets are available online at www.folger.edu/wwb or by calling the Folger Box Office at (202) 544-7077.
In 2015, Mohegan theater-maker Madeline Sayet traveled to England to pursue a PhD in Shakespeare. There, she found a country that refused to acknowledge its ongoing role in colonialism, just as the Brexit vote threatened to further disengage the UK from the wider world. In Where We Belong, an intimate and exhilarating solo piece, Madeline echoes a journey to England braved by Native ancestors in the 1700s following treaty betrayals. The story forces us to consider what it means to belong in an increasingly globalized world.
“Where We Belong comes to the Folger at a crucial time for the institution’s learning and growth,” says Karen Ann Daniels, Folger Director of Programming and Artistic Director of Folger Theatre. “As we prepare to reopen our doors with a newly expanded physical footprint, we are continually reflecting on our impact in DC communities. This play engages the Folger and our audiences in the important work of acknowledging the land on which we create, and in deconstructing colonialist practices.”
Where We Belong premiered at Shakespeare’s Globe in London in 2019 as part of Border Crossings’ ORIGINS Festival, the UK’s only large-scale multidisciplinary festival of Indigenous arts and culture. In 2021, Madeline adapted the original piece for the digital realm for Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company and the Folger Shakespeare Library.
“I’m grateful to close out this journey, performing Where We Belong at the Folger,” says Madeline Sayet. “It was originally written for the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse at Shakespeare’s Globe, where it was first performed in 2019, and has a similar level of intimacy with the audience, and I’ve missed that in some of the larger venues. The fact that we’re breathing together, and that that’s ok again now. The idea that all you need is for people to share stories together in space. I hope that sharing this story in DC will be an opportunity for connection, inquiry, and healing in these ever-chaotic times.”
The play was re-adapted for a live theatrical tour in October 2021 with Baltimore Center Stage and toured across the country. Where We Belong was performed at seven theaters nationwide, including Philadelphia Theatre Company, the Goodman Theatre, Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival, Seattle Repertory Theater, Portland Center Stage, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and The Public Theater.
Each theater’s commitment to the tour has been led by a desire to engage in authentic, continuous, long-term relationships with both the Indigenous nations whose land each presenting theater occupies and the local Native community. These values are embodied in a Community Accountability Rider developed by playwright/performer Madeline Sayet with support from Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company.
“I loved Where We Belong from the moment I encountered it,” says Maria Manuela Goyanes, Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company’s Artistic Director. “Madeline’s personal history with our country’s suppression of her Indigenous language and culture is heartbreaking, and her reflections strike an exquisite balance of delightful humor and painful truth. The journey she shares speaks directly to our current moment and what it means to belong in our violent and increasingly globalized world. After a digital production followed by a successful multi-state tour across the US, I’m thrilled that this show will now be performed live for DC audiences with our fantastic partners at the Folger.”
“Each time Madeline’s story is shared,” says director Mei Ann Teo, “even after six years and having heard it countless times, I still hear something new. To tell it again in Washington, DC is a catalyzing moment for right now: a story of what is the impact of created borders and separation, of reckoning with our history, and what happens if we don’t.”
Ticket Information & Performance Dates:
Where We Belong is on stage at Folger Theatre from February 15 through March 10, 2024. Tickets are $20-$84. Discounted preview performances and special rates for patrons under 35, students, seniors, members and family of the military, educators, and groups may be purchased through the Folger Theatre Box Office at (202) 544-7077 or online at www.folger.edu/wwb.
To celebrate and honor members of the Indigenous community, complimentary tickets are available through the entire run of the show to those who self-identify as part of the community. To redeem this offer, please contact the Folger Box Office.
The Pay-What-You-Will performance is on Thursday, February 15, 7:30pm. Tickets will be available to the public in-person starting at 5pm. One ticket per person.
Folger Theatre’s Stage Director Talk is on Thursday, February 15 at 6:30pm. Learn about the creative process, history, staging, and vision of Where We Belong with director Mei Ann Teo and actor Emily Preis in conversation with Folger Theatre Artistic Director Karen Ann Daniels. $25, with discounts for Folger Subscribers and Members.
Relaxed performances, designed to create a welcoming and comfortable environment for neuro-diverse audiences, are Sunday, February 25 at 7:30pm and Saturday, March 2 at 2pm.
Inside the Season: Where We Belong is on Wednesday, February 28 at 6:30pm. Folger Shakespeare Library Director Michael Witmore engages in conversation with Chief Lynn Malerba, Mohegan Tribe Chief and US Treasurer, and Liz Malerba, Director of Policy and Legislative Affairs for the United South and Eastern Tribes, about performing Where We Belong in the nation’s capital. Tickets are $25, with discounts for Folger Subscribers and Members.
Audience members are encouraged to stay and take part in our Post-Show Discussion with the Cast of Where We Belong on Thursday, February 29. This interactive discussion follows the 7:30pm performance.
Folger Theatre has denoted select performances during the 2023/24 season as mask-required by all audience members, staff, and volunteers. Masked Performances for Where We Belong are Saturday, March 9 at 2pm and 8pm.
Open-Captioned performances are Sunday, March 10 at 2pm and 7:30pm.
Please check the Folger website at www.folger.edu/wwb for a complete listing of related programming and events.
Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company will also be offering special programs related to Where We Belong. Visit their website at www.woollymammoth.net/ to learn more.
About the Artists:
Madeline Sayet (Playwright/Achokayis) is a Mohegan theater maker who believes the stories we pass down inform our collective possible futures. Folger Theatre: debut. Her plays include: Where We Belong, Up and Down the River, Antigone Or And Still She Must Rise Up, Daughters of Leda, The Neverland, and The Fish. As a director her work includes: Bard at the Gate: Joy Harjo’s Wings of a Night Sky; Perseverance Theatre: Tlingit Christmas Carol, Whale Song; South Dakota Shakespeare: A Midsummer Night’s Dream; Connecticut Repertory Theatre: Henry IV; Delaware Shakespeare: As You Like It; Amerinda/HERE Arts: The Winter’s Tale; Powwow Highway; Krannert Center: The Neverland, Poppea; Glimmerglass: The Magic Flute; 59E59: Miss Lead. Madeline serves as an Assistant Professor at Arizona State University with the Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies (ACMRS) and is the Executive Director of the Yale Indigenous Performing Arts Program (YIPAP). She has been honored as a Forbes 30 Under 30 in Hollywood & Entertainment, TED Fellow, NCAIED Native American 40 Under 40, and a recipient of The White House Champion of Change Award from President Obama. She is a President Biden appointee to the Board of Trustees for the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA), and also serves on the boards of The Eugene O’Neill Theater Center, and Red Eagle Soaring: Native Youth Theater, and is a member of the Artistic Council for NEFA, and the Artistic Ensemble at Long Wharf Theater. She has previously performed Where We Belong at The Public Theater (Audelco Award Nomination), Seattle Rep (Heilman & Haver Award for Best Play), The Goodman Theater (Jeff Award Nomination), Hudson Valley Shakespeare, Baltimore Center Stage, Philadelphia Theatre Company, and Shakespeare’s Globe. www.madelinesayet.com
Emily Preis (Achokayis) is a proud citizen of the Osage Nation. Folger Theatre: debut. Select collaborators: Eric Avery, Siobhan Brown, Elizabeth Cook, Deborah Cowell, Sabine Decatur, Madeline Easely, Imani Guy Duckett, Miranda Hall Jiménez, Daniel Leeman Smith, Madison Mayer, storäe michele, Najee Omar, Calliope Pina Parker, Maleek Rae, Mauricio Salgado, Andrina Smith, Henu Josephine Tarrant, Drew Woodson, Groundwater Arts, New Native Theatre, The Mercury Store, Perseverance Theatre, Safe Harbors NYC ensemble. Awards: 2021 YIPAP Misty Upham Award Finalist, 2023 SPACE on Rygder Farm Greenhouse Resident.
Mei Ann Teo (Director) is a queer immigrant from Singapore making theater and film at the intersection of artistic/civic/contemplative practice. Folger Theatre: debut. As a director/devisor/dramaturg, they work internationally at festivals including Belgium’s Festival de Liege, Singapore Theatre Festival, Edinburgh International Fringe, and the Beijing International Festival. Recent work includes Madeline Sayet’s Where We Belong (film and national tour) and the US premiere of Amy Berryman’s Walden at Theatreworks Hartford (Best Production and Director- Connecticut Critics Award). They have directed nationally including the Public Theater, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Theatreworks Hartford, Playwrights Realm, Goodman Theatre, Berkeley Rep, Crowded Fire, History Theatre, Page 73, Musical Theatre Factory, and the National Black Theatre. Teo received the League of Professional Theatre Women’s Josephine Abady Award, is the inaugural recipient of the Lily Fan Director Lilly Award and is an artistic leader at Ping Chong and Company.
Hao Bai (Production Designer – Scenic, Lights and Props) is a multidisciplinary designer in lighting, sound, video projection, and world-building (environment) for live and virtual performances. Folger Theatre: debut. Recent productions include: Virtual: Ma-Yi Theater+WP Theater: Final Boarding Call; Ping Chong: Nocturne in 1200s. Lighting: Bushwick Starr & The Public Theatre: Waterboy and the Mighty World; Ping Chong: Lazarus. Projection: NYIT Awards: Electronic City; SF Playhouse: My Home on the Moon. Sound: TheatreWorks-CT: Walden (Critics Circle Award), People’s Light: True West. Lighting, Sound: HERE: 7Mins. Lighting, Sound, Projection: The Flea: Arden. Production Design: Harvard University: and the grass grows. Haobaiddesign.com
Asa Benally (Costume Designer) is a citizen of the Navajo and Cherokee Nations. Folger Theatre: debut. Stratford Festival: The Rez Sisters, 1939; Waterwell: 7 Minutes; The Gingold Group: Mrs. Warren’s Profession; Keen Company: Blues for an Alabama Sky (Drama Desk nomination); Syracuse Stage: Somewhere Over the Border; George Street Playhouse: Too Heavy For Your Pocket; Westport Country Playhouse: Skeleton Crew; Juilliard School: Father Comes Home From the Wars); Public Theater Mobile Unit: Measure for Measure; Yale Rep: Cymbeline; The Bushwick School of Drama: Coriolanus, The Seagull; Perseverance Theater: Whale Song; Yale Cabaret: Roberto Zucco; HERE: The Winter’s Tale. Asabenally.com
Erik Schilke (Musical Composer and Sound Designer) is an ambient electronic artist and music producer working in theater, film and visual media. Folger Theatre: debut. His debut album Synthesis was recently released on the German label Hymen Records. He has previously scored film projects for acclaimed directors including the book trailer for Seth Godin’s The Practice directed by Fernando Lazzari, Michael Pantozzi’s Off the Face of the Earth, Melissa Tantaquidgeon Zobel’s Flying Birds Diary, and The Wishing Well directed by Madeline Sayet. His work as a composer and sound designer has been seen at The Public Theater, Goodman Theatre, Seattle Rep (Heilman & Haver Award Nomination for Best Sound Design), Philadelphia Theatre Company, Portland Center Stage, Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival and Baltimore Center Stage and internationally in museums such as Pixelbase and Moravská Galerie in Prague as well as online magazines including Stash Media. He attended the Schulich School of Music at McGill University playing double bass and is an MA candidate in Interdisciplinary Music Studies focusing on Music Production and Film Scoring at Berklee College of Music. His work draws from the narrative patterns in the natural world around us to both engage with the soundscape of our existence and escape from it at the same time. @erikschilkemusic
Folger Theatre’s Where We Belong is supported by the Share Fund, and made possible in part by the generous support of:
Premier Season Sponsors — Dr. Bill and Evelyn Braithwaite and Andrea “Andi” Kasarsky
Season Sponsors — Helen and David Kenney and Family
Production Sponsors — Nancy and Steve Howard
Contributing Sponsors — Keith and Celia Arnaud, Louis and Bonnie Cohen, Gail Kern Paster, Ian Vance, and Scott & Liz Vance
Associate Sponsors — Timothy J. Carlton, Barbra Eaton and Ed Salners, Rick Kasten, Julianna Mahley, and Peter and Mary Jay Michel
Artist Sponsors – Karl K. and Carrol Benner Kindel
Open-Captioned Performance Sponsors — Vinton and Sigrid Cerf
About Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company:
The Tony Award®-winning Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company creates badass theatre that highlights the stunning, challenging, and tremendous complexity of our world. For over 40 years, Woolly has maintained a high standard of artistic rigor while simultaneously daring to take risks, innovate, and push beyond perceived boundaries. One of the few remaining theatres in the country to maintain a company of artists, Woolly serves an essential research and development role within the American theatre. Plays premiered here have gone on to productions at hundreds of theatres all over the world and have had lasting impacts on the field. Currently co-led by Artistic Director Maria Manuela Goyanes and Managing Director Kimberly E. Douglas, Woolly is located in Washington, DC, equidistant from the Capitol and the White House. This unique location influences Woolly’s investment in actively working towards an equitable, participatory, and creative democracy.
Woolly Mammoth stands upon occupied, unceded territory: the ancestral homeland of the Nacotchtank whose descendants belong to the Piscataway peoples. Furthermore, the foundation of this city, and most of the original buildings in Washington, DC, were funded by the sale of enslaved people of African descent and built by their hands.
About Folger Shakespeare Library and Folger Theatre:
The Folger Shakespeare Library makes Shakespeare’s stories and the world in which he lived accessible. Anchored by the world’s largest Shakespeare collection, the Folger is a place where curiosity and creativity are embraced, and conversation is always encouraged. Visitors to the Folger can choose how they want to experience the arts and humanities, from interactive exhibitions to captivating performances, and from path-breaking research to transformative educational programming. The Folger welcomes everyone to connect in their own way—from communities throughout Washington DC to communities across the globe.
The award-winning Folger Theatre in our nation’s capital bridges the arts and humanities through transformational performances and programming that speak inclusively to the human experience. Under the leadership of Artistic Director Karen Ann Daniels, Folger Theatre continues its legacy through exciting interpretations and adaptations of Shakespeare and expands the classical canon through cultivating today’s artists and commissioning new work that is in dialogue with the concerns and issues of our time. Folger Theatre thrives both on its historical stage and in the community, engaging audiences wherever they happen to be.
Following a multiyear building renovation, the Folger’s historic Capitol Hill home will fully reopen to the public in June 2024.
Learn more at www.folger.edu.
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