Sutrajāl: Revelations of Gossamer
Sutrajāl is set in the Broken City, once inhabited by a vibrant range of people whose dreams and desires now languish on its streets. This city, crushed down by the recently constructed Shiny City, once hosted GloFFUC, the Global Feminist Funk Underground Club, cherished by communities of women and femmes from across the world, who gathered there at night to dance off their frustrations and returned to their struggles the next morning. The Poet wanders these haunted streets, trying to learn the histories of a disappeared community so she might connect past and future. Gradually, the relationships among these ghosts are revealed to be like gossamer, fine, silky, yet strong, and webbed through multiple layers, like a spider web.
“The company’s production of “Sutrajaal: Revelations of Gossamer” galvanized an enthusiastic crowd at the opening night performance.…This audience, thanks to an inspiring performance, was revved up and ready to take on the world.” –Sheila Regan, Star Tribune
World Premiere: September 20-21, 2019, The O’Shaughnessy, St. Paul MN, with support from The MAP Fund
Running Time: 01:30:27, without intermission
Ananya Chatterjea, artistic director, choreographer, dancer
Concept, Choreography: Ananya Chatterjea
Stage Director: Marcus Young
Dramaturg: Sharon Bridgforth
Composer/Sound Designer/Instrumentalist: Renée Copeland (vocals, silver flute, double-reed wooden flute, bamboo flute, melodica, alto-saxophone, mbira, gongs, pakawaj, electric guitar, ukulele, midi-keyboard electronic instruments, found objects)
Instrumental and Vocal Musicians featured in recorded score: Khary Jackson (cello) Pooja Goswami Pavan (vocals), Andrea “Queen Drea” Reynolds (vocals), PJ Roduta (drumkit, bongo, doumbek, conga, udu, bombo, gongs, shakers, camel bells, found objects)
Text for Loving in Kashmir written by Ananya Chatterjea, spoken by Ananya Chatterjea, Renée Copeland, Kealoha Ferreira
Text spoken by Andrea “Queen Drea” Reynolds from June Jordan’s I must become a menace to my enemies.
Text spoken by Pooja Goswami Pavan from Faiz Ahmad Faiz’s Boi ki lab azaad hei tere.
Costume Designer: Annie Cady
Lighting Designer: Kevin A. Jones
Scenic Designer: Chelsea Warren
Technical Scenic Director & Set Constructor: Zeb Hults
Media Designer: Darren Johnson
Animation: Tim Quinlan
Properties Designer & Constructor: Kezia Florence
Dancers: Lizzette Chapa, Ananya Chatterjea, Renée Copeland, Toan Thanh Doan, Alexandra Eady, Kealoha Ferreira, Julia Gay, Orlando Hunter, Hui Niu Wilcox, Alessandra Lebea Williams, Laichee Yang, Magnolia Yang Sao Yia
Live Spoken Word Artist (The Poet): Tish Jones, original spoken word text
Live Performance Instrumentalist (The Magical Conch-Whisperer): Douglas R. Ewart, Ewart Bell Vest, bells, Sopranino Saxophone, conch, glass Didjeridu/Didgeridoo on wheels
Production Manager: Emma Marlar
Stage Managers & Apprentices: Noelle Awadallah, Fei Bi Chan, Nakita Kirchner
SUTRAJĀL: REVELATIONS OF GOSSAMER
A dance in five movements
People in the Broken City:
Ua (Kealoha Ferreira) is Rain-Spiritwoman who churns her breath to invoke cleaning water flow. Uamoves to quench thirst, sometimes falling torrentially to wipe away pain, sometimes moistening the air that has come to be overcharged with struggle. She is sheathed in silver luminescence.
Byengomi (Alexandra Eady) is a mythical bird who is the very spirit of love. Her bird song echoes through the landscape, seeking connection with those who choose to hear her. Her connection with Rain is of epic dimensions and as they grow strong together, she moves the air with her dancing presence.
Vrish (Orlando Hunter) is the essence of wind. His flow fills spaces as he moves through them, sometimes gentle, caressing the hair on the neck of those with whom he falls in love, sometimes biting, blowing shrill in the face of violent destructive acts.Vrish’s great strength is his elemental power to move energies: breathe life into still forms, bloom flowers, even as he connects with deadly typhoons and cyclones.
Dyukuamhuah (Magnolia Yang Sao Yia) is the Shaman who holds the past and present of her people. The keeper of the Scroll that carries the names of all the women and femmes whose lives have been cut short needlessly, she is often broken with sorrow. She is always watching out for her community, drawing their attention to dangerous shifts, threading together memory fragments, and fighting to harness storms.
Izzicatapir (Renée Copeland) is this society’s mad musician who has lived through loss and disruption. Repeatedly, the instruments she has gathered and created have been snatched away from her. Now she lives in zones where sanity and insanity cross, playing instruments that do not exist. She has committed to hearing the melodies that she cannot realize.
Siyaah (Ananya Chatterjea) is a dancer trapped in time past, the embodiment of a beauty that keeps fading even when revived. She longs for her bells that once resonated with beautiful rhythms, but they repeatedly unravel from around her ankles. When she gathers them up in her hands, they scatter around her, foiling her efforts to re-connect with the hidden cadence of her dance.
Rebaba (Julia Gay), young, full of aspiration, and always wanting more than the limitations that she is forced to live with, has repeatedly rebelled against the daily grind and has been chastised for this. Sent away to a “house of good nurture,” she has been directed to fold loads and loads of laundry to earn her keep. But her spirit infiltrates the materials she is directed to contain, filling her universe with tumult.
Orchid (Hui Wilcox), a beautiful singer, comes from poverty. She wants desperately to rise into success, so she thrusts herself into unknown circumstances because she needs to survive and has been promised “connections.” She must bring her own equipment to these gigs, turn on her own mic, set up on her own. But no one seems to understand her accent. Her mic fails her. Her voice cracks in pain. Her steps falter.
Berkakia (Lizzette Chapa), a ritual mourner, has lost a part of her peace forever. Devastated by the indelible memory of violences she has witnessed and experienced, she tries to survive by covering her eyes and wiping away the memories, but she cannot escape. Her wailing dances, communal and personal, throb with loss.
Steyllia (Laichee Yang) is the guardian of the Global Feminist Funk Underground Club. Birthed of the love of Rain and Bird and nurtured by the Shaman, she knows the sacredness of her mission. But protecting this secret converging of feminists from across the world has been difficult and the sweetness of her smile is always tempered by a fiery edge.
NyayiUuc (Toan Doan) is innocent and young, and desires jasmine and gentle openings. His movements are soft, affirming his belief in romantic love. Yet, the subtlety of his dance is always threatened by the violences that break in on the dream world he is always spinning. He is particularly vigilant about forced deportations and displacements that have robbed him of many he has held dear.
Ahiwa (Alessandra WIlliams) is the seer whose wisdom comes from having reckoned with the meaning of home and belonging. She traverses all dimensions of time and place, holding the memory of the ghostly inhabitants of the Broken City with care. She is constantly engaged in weaving together all that has been discarded into new patterns of life and hope.
The Poet (Tish Jones), the Griot of Lost Histories, is one of the few survivors in the Broken City. She walks the streets of this urban landscape continuously, searching for ancestral voices, so she may create Documents of Remembrance for future generations.
The Magical Conch-Whisperer (Douglas Ewart), works with sound, breath, and resonance to support the shifting of worlds. Conjured at moments of transformation, his travel through time aids to bend space and time towards new dimensions.
Our performance will begin and end with a salutation to Dakota land and Native communities developed in workshop with Janice BadMoccasin.
Opening Song by Janice BadMoccasin.
Sutrajāl honors present-day “Fire-Bellied Feminists” whose work keeps us going, and who we imagine to be integral in the Global Feminist Funk Underground Club community. Among them are the following, who we have highlighted through our #FBFF series on social media, but we know there are many others like them whose powerful, irreverent, sacred, beautiful work keeps us all going: Janice BadMoccasin; Sharon Day; Suzanne Thao; Laurie Carlos; Khushi Kabir; Cherish Sonja Gibson; Nia & Ness; Rhonda Fellows; Sun Yung Shin; Ni’Ja Whitson; Sarah White; Yasmin Abdi; Kuab Maiv Yaj; Anh-Hoa Thi Nguyen. Read about them here.
Sutrajāl is presented by The O’Shaughnessy at St. Catherine University, and is supported by an Art Works grant from the National Endowment for the Arts; the Ford Foundation; The MAP Fund, supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; the McKnight Foundation; and the Imagine Fund.
Sutrajāl was developed with support from the Urban Bush Women Choreographic Center Initiative funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Ford Foundation.
This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through grants from the Metro Regional Arts Council and the Minnesota State Arts Board, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.
Sutrajāl is also supported by more than 90 individuals who, collectively, donated $10,000 toward the production during July-September, 2019.