A Jersey City father and daughter are part of a new production co-directed by puppet artist Heather Henson, the daughter of legendary puppeteer Jim Henson and Grammy Award winner Ty Defoe.
Henu Josephine Tarrant, the 25-year-old lead performer and an up-and-coming indigenous performance artist, and her father, the musician Kevin Tarrant, are at the heart of it.
IBEX Puppetry is planning an upcoming four-city national tour of the play “Ajijaak on Turtle Island,” which is currently running at The New Victory Theater until March 10.
“Ajijaak on Turtle Island” brings together an ensemble of Native American performers to tell the tale of Ajijaak, a young whooping crane who must face her first migration cycle on Turtle Island (North America) after being separated from her family.
Puppets from Jim Henson’s Creature Shop, indigenous songs and dances, and video projections aim to create a transformative experience that honors contemporary Native American cultures and illustrates the harmonious relationships between humans, animals, and the environment.
“We are thrilled to bring Ajijaak on Turtle Island to four US cities in 2019, bringing communities together to share in this immersive journey that reflects our interconnectedness with all of creation,” said Heather Henson. “Over the last 20 years of producing environmental spectacles, I have seen how puppets can be powerful connectors to nature and how much cranes can teach us. I am grateful to be able to bring together my passion for visualizing environmental issues with Ty’s incredible storytelling, and look forward to celebrating the talented artists who bring this show to life.”
Ajijaak on Turtle Island celebrates the richness of indigenous cultures that honor and protect majestic birds like Whooping Cranes, and the cast includes Native American performers from many nations, including the Ojibwe, Ho-Chunk, Lakota, and Cherokee Nations.
“Native nations assist us in reflecting how we are taking care of and taking action for the environment, and Ajijaak on Turtle Island is a metaphor for how we can be better stewards of our Mother Earth and one another,” said Ty Defoe. “I was inspired by my lived experience and journeys across Turtle Island—with continual visits to landscapes, cousin nations, and communities, and in speaking with elders and youth—to learn how ecological knowledge and sacred wisdom from indigenous people can be shared. I am thrilled to share this story.”
“Ajijaak on Turtle Island” is written by interdisciplinary artist Ty Defoe of the Oneida and Ojibwe Nations of Wisconsin, with lyrics by Defoe and Grammy and NAMA-nominated Dawn Avery of Mohawk descent, and music by Avery & Grammy Award winner Larry Mitchell,, Kevin Tarrant of The SilverCloud Singers and of the Ho-Chunk Nation of Wisconsin and Hopi Tribe of Arizona.
Tickets are on sale now for all shows with more information available here: https://www.ajijaak.com/2019-tour/.