Two Worlds is a nonprofit created in order to promote the creative work of Native American artists—particularly those working in film and theater. This summer, the organization put out a call to women of color, hoping to gather and workshop stories that would eventually be performed on stage. Soon that particular project will come to fruition as Telling My Story: Bridging Two Worlds. Directed by Diné artist Kim Gleason, the interactive performance offers personal narrative from Native and Chicana women, performed by Christina Castro, María Herrera, Deanna Allison and Gleason herself, as well as two short films. They hope to build on this event, and collaborate more in the coming years with theaters to amplify stories like these.
Before the opening of Telling My Story, Gleason told us about the importance of this project and Two Worlds' mission.
Alibi: What can you tell us about the stories that are being shared?
Gleason: Our stories are narratives, so some will be personal, [drawn] from the performers' own experiences or their family's history, and some are imaginary stories of what the world would be like if Indigenous women were empowered and recognized in today's society.
What topics are being approached and how?
Topics we are covering include: missing and murdered Indigenous women, the #MeToo movement, protesting on tribal lands movement, immigrant mothers and children, domestic violence against women and [the struggles of] transgender women.
Why was it important for this to be interactive? How do you expect the audience to participate?
We expect this play to have an influence and effect on our audience members so we wanted to include the audience in some of the scenes. … We decided to involve our audience in moments where we would break the fourth wall. For example [we] ask some of our audience members to be on stage with us for small roles in a protesting scene, as well as [participate] in a round circle at the end of the show.
What need did you see for this show?
A safe place where all women of color and Indigenous women can share their collective stories and experiences with the community and speak freely without holding back. We're hoping our audience can see that we also empower our communities, our families and our future generations to come by speaking up now.
What do you think performers will get out of sharing their stories?
Healing and support, and most of all empowerment! Since we've been working together we found that we had to lean on each other at times, especially when we were having a rough day, which led to us expressing and opening our hearts more.
What do you hope will happen when others hear these stories?
We're excited to see how audiences will react and respond to our production—it’s the first time we are opening our hearts free of constraint and restriction, and we want to influence our audience to take action in their circles and communities.
How does this production speak to the mission of Two Worlds?
Our primary focus is creating an affirmative depiction of contemporary Native American life as opposed to reinforcing cultural stereotypes commonly found in the entertainment industry, so with this production we're creating a safe space where Indigenous women are empowered, laughing and sharing their tears, and taking control of their world one step at a time.
Telling My Story: Bridging Two Worlds, which is co-produced by Storytellers of New Mexico, will run Friday Nov. 9 to Sunday, Nov. 11 at the Q-Staff Theatre (400 Broadway Blvd. SE). Each performance is followed by a short discussion. Tickets are available now online (starting at $10), head to twoworldsnm.wordpress.com to purchase, or grab them at the door. Friday and Saturday curtains are drawn at 7:30pm, with a matinee at 2pm on Sunday.