Process Series presents “And So We Walked,” exploring the impact of the Trail of Tears

Thomas Illinois Original Trail lores (002)The UNC Process Series presents “And So We Walked,” written and performed by DeLanna Studi and directed by Corey Madden, Nov. 13-14 at 8 p.m. in Swain Hall Studio 6.

Cherokee actor and writer DeLanna Studi explores the enduring impact of the Trail of Tears on contemporary communities using research, interviews and her own family’s experience. Along with her father and a documentarian, Studi retraced the steps of her ancestors from their homestead in Murphy, North Carolina to their present home new Tahlequah, Oklahoma. As we examine our history, do we live in the past or do we focus on the future? Studi will spend a month in residency at UNC-Chapel Hill turning her firsthand research on the Trail into an original dramatic work. Corey Madden directs this intimate yet communal journey of loss and renewal.

“As a Cherokee citizen and woman,” says Studi, “I have always dreamed about retracing my ancestors’ footsteps along their forced deportation from their ancestral homelands in North Carolina to our current home in what is now called Oklahoma, collecting stories along the way. This past summer, my father and I were able to complete this journey. While the Trail of Tears is a defining moment in our Cherokee history, it does not define who we are. And So We Walked is a universal story about the complexities of identity, reconciling the past while living in the present, and the importance of keeping our stories alive.”

The Process Series is proud to be joining forces with the American Indian Center, the Center for the Study of the American South, and the Southern Oral History Program at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. These organizations will provide research support for Studi, as well as engage the student body her story to a broader campus discussion.

“The American Indian Center is honored to be a partner to bring And So We Walked to campus,” says Randi Byrd, Community Engagement Coordinator for the UNC American Indian Center. “Stories of survival, perseverance, adaptation and prosperity are common in Native communities, and yet are often underrepresented in the media and in performance. And So We Walked is an intimate journey through one of the darkest periods of American history, yet it is ultimately a story of Cherokee resiliency.”

“When we talk about the history of the American South, we don’t immediately think about Native American experience, although it is a critical part of our history,” says Process Series Artistic Director Joseph Megel. “DeLanna’s work is a reclamation of that experience.”

Over the last year in development, And So We Walked was made possible, in part, by ongoing support from the Thomas S. Kenan Institute for the Arts as part of the Arts and Society Initiative to demonstrate the value and impact of the arts in society.

As always, the performances are free and open to the public ($5 suggested donation). Each performance will be followed by a discussion touching on the aesthetic and political issues raised by the performance.

About the Artists

DeLanna Studi (Cherokee) recently completed her Off-Broadway Debut of the New York Times Critics Pick Informed Consent at the Duke Theater on 42nd Street. She was a company member of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival for two seasons, where she was one of only 10 Native people (onstage and off) to have done so! She also performed in the first National Broadway Tour of the Tony and Pulitzer Prize winning August: Osage County. Her performances in Hallmark/ABC’s Dreamkeeper and Chris Eyre’s Edge of America have won her awards. DeLanna also tours in the Encompass “Compassion Play” KICK, a one-person show, written by Peter Howard, which explores the power of images, stereotypes, and Native American mascots. She recently starred in the film Blessed and has guest starred in ABC’s General Hospital, Showtime’s Shameless and SyFy’s ZNation. She is the current chair of the SAG-AFTRA National Native American Committee and an ensemble member of Native Voices.

Award-winning director/producer Corey Madden has worked across artistic disciplines for twenty-five years in theatre, music, and dance as well as creating public art for museums and festivals through her company L’Atelier Arts. Madden has held a number of senior artistic positions including Associate Artistic Director of Mark Taper Forum at the Music Center of Los Angeles, Director of Artist Programs at the Pasadena Arts Council and is now Executive Director of the Thomas S. Kenan Institute for the Arts at the UNC School of the Arts.