Community Accountability Rider Developed By Playwright Madeline Sayet Underscores Collaboration With National Theatre Companies
(Washington, DC) Coming off the successful film adaptation of WHERE WE BELONG last summer, Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company in association with Folger Shakespeare Library is giving audiences around the country a chance to witness Madeline Sayet’s deeply insightful solo show with a national tour of WHERE WE BELONG directed by Mei Ann Teo.
In WHERE WE BELONG, Mohegan theatre-maker Madeline Sayet travels to England in 2015 to pursue a PhD in Shakespeare. Madeline finds a country that refuses to acknowledge its ongoing role in colonialism, just as the Brexit vote threatens to further disengage the UK from the wider world. In this exhilarating solo piece, Madeline echoes a journey to England braved by Native ancestors in the 1700s following treatise betrayals — and forces us to consider what it means to belong in an increasingly globalized world.
Woolly Mammoth’s Artistic Director Maria Manuela Goyanes shares, "I loved WHERE WE BELONG from the moment I encountered it. 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 increasingly complicated world. It’s thrilling to finally be able to share it with audiences live and in-person around the United States."
“Where We Belong is an invitation to all of us to begin our journey to understand the real impact of colonization and erasure of Indigenous peoples and cultures,” says Karen Ann Daniels, the Folger’s Director of Programming and Artistic Director of Folger Theatre. “Madeline offers us her personal history as an entry point to engage learning as individuals, communities, and cultural institutions — we are proud to support this vital conversation.”
WHERE WE BELONG, re-adapted for a live theatrical tour in October 2021 with Baltimore Center Stage, will now tour across the country. Philadelphia Theatre Company will launch the tour this April 2022, followed by stops this summer at Goodman Theatre and Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival, and in the fall at Seattle Rep and The Public Theater. The WHERE WE BELONG tour is expected to continue through 2024 with additional cities added, including a final stop in winter 2024 at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, DC. For booking information, contact Broadway & Beyond Theatricals.
Each theatre'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 theatre 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 didn't want my story to be able to be used as a tokenistic way for theaters to check boxes, without actually changing their behavior,” explains Sayet. “So we created an accountability rider to go with the show in order to ensure all the presenting theaters would commit to what I feel is the bare minimum commitment toward engaging with the Native peoples whose lands they occupy, and the history of our erasure in the ‘American’ theatre. Each presenting theater has agreed to never present redface again, develop an ongoing relationship with the Native peoples whose lands they occupy, offer free tickets to the show to all Native audiences, present work by local Native artists, and organize events supporting local language revitalization initiatives. It is my hope that these initiatives will lead to more Native stories being told, and, when done in tandem with the show, create awareness of some of the actual issues the piece is trying to address."
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. While at Woolly Mammoth last season, Madeline adapted the original piece for the digital realm with Director Mei Ann Teo.
The WHERE WE BELONG national tour features production design by Hao Bai, costume design by Asa Benally, original composition and sound design by Erik Schilke, dramaturgy by Vera Starbard, dialect coaching by Liz Hayes, and casting by Judy Bowman. The tour is stage managed by Grace Chariya and has technical direction by Megan J. Coffel, with scenic drawing and rigging support by Miguel Valderrama, lighting consulting by Andrew Cissna, and makeup consulting by Dawn Newsome. The standby for Madeline Sayet will be Emily Preis. Broadway & Beyond Theatricals serves as Executive Producer and Booking Agency.
Philadelphia Theatre Company: April 15, 2022 - May 8, 2022
Goodman Theatre: June 24, 2022 - July 24, 2022
Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival: August 13, 2022 - August 22, 2022
Seattle Rep: September 8, 2022 - October 9, 2022
The Public Theater: Fall 2022
Folger Theatre at Folger Shakespeare Library: Winter 2024
Tickets will be available on each of the presenting organizations’ websites.
ABOUT THE ARTISTS:
Madeline Sayet (Playwright/Performer - she/her) is a Mohegan theatre maker who believes the stories we pass down inform our collective possible futures. She 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, MIT Media Lab Director’s Fellow, National Directing Fellow, Drama League Director-In-Residence, NCAIED Native American 40 Under 40, and a recipient of The White House Champion of Change Award from President Obama. As a writer 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 (In Development). Recent directing work includes: Tlingit Christmas Carol (Perseverance Theatre), Midsummer Night's Dream (South Dakota Shakespeare), Henry IV (Connecticut Repertory Theatre), Whale Song (Perseverance Theatre), As You Like It (Delaware Shakespeare), The Winter’s Tale (Amerinda/HERE Arts), Poppea (Krannert Center, Illinois), The Magic Flute (Glimmerglass), Macbeth (NYC Parks), Miss Lead (59e59). www.madelinesayet.com
Mei Ann Teo (Director - they/she) is a queer immigrant from Singapore making theatre & film at the intersection of artistic/civic/contemplative practice. As a director/devisor/dramaturg, they create across genres, including music theatre, intermedial participatory work, reimagining classics, and documentary theatre. Teo’s work has been in international festivals including Belgium's Festival de Liege, Edinburgh International Fringe, Beijing International Festival, Singapore Theatre Festival. They helmed Dim Sum Warriors the Musical by Colin Goh and Yen Yen Woo, composed by Pulitzer Prize winner Du Yun for national China twenty-five city tour. They have directed and/or developed new work at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Theatreworks Hartford, Playwrights Realm, Goodman Theatre, Public Theater, Berkeley Rep (Ground Floor), Crowded Fire, History Theatre, Page 73, Musical Theatre Factory, and the National Black Theatre. Recent work includes Jillian Walker’s world premiere SKiNFoLK: An American Show at the Bushwick Starr, Madeline Sayet’s Where We Belong at Shakespeare’s Globe and Woolly Mammoth, the North American premiere of Amy Berryman’s Walden at Theatreworks Hartford, and the English US premiere of Stefano Massini’s 7 Minutes at Waterwell. Teo received the League of Professional Theatre Women’s Josephine Abady Award, and is the Associate Artistic Director and Director of New Work at Oregon Shakespeare Festival.
ABOUT THE PRODUCING ORGANIZATIONS:
WOOLLY MAMMOTH THEATRE COMPANY
Woolly Mammoth 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 as an essential research and development role model 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. Co-led by Artistic Director Maria Manuela Goyanes and Managing Director Emika Abe, Woolly is located in Washington, DC, equidistant from the Capitol Building 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.
FOLGER SHAKESPEARE LIBRARY
Folger Shakespeare Library is the world’s largest Shakespeare collection, the ultimate resource for exploring Shakespeare and his world. The Folger welcomes millions of visitors online and in person. It provides unparalleled access to a huge array of resources, from original sources to modern interpretations. With the Folger, you can experience the power of performance, the wonder of exhibitions, and the excitement of pathbreaking research. The Folger offers the opportunity to see and even work with early modern sources, driving discovery and transforming education for students of all ages.
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. Now 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.
During a multiyear building renovation, join the Folger online and on the road. Learn more at folger.edu.
BROADWAY & BEYOND THEATRICALS
Broadway & Beyond Theatricals is a theatrical producer and booking agency led by founders Victoria Lang, Ryan Bogner and Tracey McFarland. Upcoming productions: The Kite Runner (Broadway), Paradise Square (Broadway), Cambodian Rock Band (Tour). Broadway tours as agent: Paradise Square, The Cher Show, Memphis, Legally Blonde, Million Dollar Quartet Christmas & more. www.bbtheatricals.com