Check out photos of Mohegan playwright and theatre artist Madeline Sayet as she takes the LuEsther Hall stage at The Public Theater in her work Where We Belong. Performances began October 28 at the Off-Broadway theatre where the show will open November 9 for a run through November 27.
In her solo work, Sayet grapples with the question of what it means to belong, a question that was at the front of her mind when she moved to England to pursue a doctorate in Shakespeare in the midst of the Brexit campaign in 2015. As Sayet faces her own journey between two nations, she reflects on the journeys of her ancestors as she delves into colonialism and globalization.
Directed by Mei Ann Teo, Where We Belong features production design by Hao Bai, costume design by Asa Benally, music and sound design by Erik Schilke, and dramaturgy by Vera Starbard. Grace Chariya is production stage manager.
Co-producted by The Public and Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company in association with Folger Shakespeare Library, Sayet's work runs only at theatres that agree to a rider developed by the playwright, according to Folgers' announcement of the tour. "I didn't want my story to be able to be used as a tokenistic way for theatres to check boxes, without actually changing their behavior,” said Sayet in the statement. “So we created an accountability rider to go with the show in order to ensure all the presenting theatres 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." The initiatives in the rider include never presenting redface in the future, developing relationship with Native peoples whose lands the theatres occupy, presenting work by local Native artists, and organizing events to support local language revitalization efforts.
An Indigenous Community Performance will be given November 6 at 2 PM, with free tickets available to Indigenous and Native communities using the code WWEBELONG. A talkback will follow the performance.
A Student Community Night is planned for November 16 at 8 PM, with students of all ages and those working in academia able to use the code WWBCOMMUNITY to purchase $20 tickets for the performance.
Where We Belong previously made stops at Philadelphia Theatre Company, Chicago's Goodman Theatre, Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival, and Seattle Rep. Following The Public engagement, the show will run at Folger Theatre at Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C., in winter 2024.