The Wampanoag Nation are presenting their story through singing, dance and spoken word, for the first time, in Plymouth this Spring.
It consists of We Are The Land, a one-off performance in Theatre Royal Plymouth’s Lyric auditorium on 23 April 2023, followed by a week of workshops and performances in The Drum (25–27 April 2023).
The Wampanoag have been stewarding their land for over 10,000 years across several of the Eastern States of the USA including Massachusetts. Their land was where the Pilgrim Fathers landed on and colonised, creating settlements that established modern America, to the detriment of the Wampanoag nation.
The voice of the Wampanoag was silenced, but now We Are The Land is an opportunity to understand their relationship to the soil, how it was taken away, and how the tribe have re-established themselves.
Siobhan Brown, who is part of the creative team working on We Are the Land, is a member of the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe.
She said: “We Are the Land has come together in a beautifully organic and creative way. We have been working with a group of Wampanoag artists, actors, storytellers, we have been guiding each session to determine the collective story that we want to tell.”
Siobhan explains the importance of telling the story: “It’s important that folks on these shores understand that there was a thriving sense of community, there was a living culture around Massachusetts that was basically invaded.
“There is an important message in coming here that says not only are we still here, but what was there to begin with, and who was there to begin with, was of great value.”
We Are The Land is followed by a week of music, dance, spoken word and lectures in The Drum, as part of the Wampanoag Nation Takeover, running from 25–27 April.
Mandy Precious, Director of Strategic Projects at TRP, said: “This sees the tribe sharing many aspects of who they are and what matters to them. Wampanoag elders, historians, and young tribal members will share their talents in The Drum. This includes a lecture on colonisation, a film about the Mashpee 9, and the Wampanoag Singers and Dancers. There will be sharings about land conservation and a joyous modern fusion of Wampanoag talents. We’re calling this a Wampanoag Takeover. It is an opportunity to interact with and learn directly from a community who have lived experience of colonisation on an epic scale, but who are firmly saying ‘we are still here’.”
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All pictures credit Theatre Royal Plymouth