DELANNA’S AUDACIOUS IDEA
BY COREY MADDEN, DIRECTOR
As a creative producer and director of new plays for 30 years, I often ask artists about what fascinates or irritates or activates them. These informal pitch sessions (often conducted over a meal) are how folks in the creative professions conduct business, but it’s rare that a 900-mile, five-year journey begins because of a single conversation.
“What is your dream project?” I asked DeLanna Studi casually one night at dinner following rehearsals for a play I directed and co-wrote in 2013. Without hesitation she declared “I want to walk the Trail of Tears with my father and make a play about it.” The audacity of DeLanna’s answer impressed me, but I had no idea how to respond at the time. “Well good luck with that,” was the best I could manage that night.
While I wasn’t certain whether I could help make DeLanna’s dream a reality, I never forgot her powerful vision. As fate would have it, six months later I moved to North Carolina to lead the Kenan Institute for the Arts at University of North Carolina School of the Arts. In my new role and new home, I had my own moment of creative reckoning: What was my dream project? Not long after, I invited DeLanna to visit Cherokee, North Carolina, home to the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. What DeLanna learned that day about her family’s history inspired both of us for the next five years.
Since 2013, the audacious idea that came to be known as And So We Walked: An Artist’s Journey Along the Trail of Tears has received generous support from many individuals and tribal organizations, as well as renowned theatres, museums, universities, and philanthropies. We are deeply grateful to each person who was brave enough to say “yes” and help the project move forward on its path. In particular I want to give thanks to two men—DeLanna’s father, Thomas Studie, and my late husband, Bruno Louchouarn—for their unstinting belief in their warrior women.
The rest of this story is DeLanna’s to tell, but I am forever grateful to her for sharing her dream and inviting me to collaborate with her on this remarkable dramatic story.
Tickets to And So We Walked: An Artist's Journey Along the Trail of Tears are available now by clicking here or calling the Ticket Office at 317.635.5252.
Heartwarming children’s classic travels new tracks at Indiana Repertory Theatre
The Little Choo-Choo celebrates creativity and power of play for young audiences
Indianapolis, Ind.— For the sixth year of its Exploring Stages program, the Indiana Repertory Theatre will produce The Little Choo-Choo That Thinks She Can, written by Playwright-in-Residence James Still. This imaginative take on a classic tale will run from October 9 - 27 in our Cabaret for children 3 - 8 years old and their families.
“We commissioned The Little Choo-Choo That Thinks She Can from our Playwright-in-Residence James Still in order to continue to create customized theatre experiences for our youngest audiences,” IRT’s Executive Artistic Director Janet Allen said. “This timeless story speaks directly to children as their sense of adventure and invention are delightfully mirrored in this brand new play.”
Written specifically by James Still to reflect a child’s point of view and their excitement for make-believe, the story unfolds through the imaginations of a young sibling pair, Sister and Brother, and celebrates the pure joy of playing. The Little Choo-Choo That Thinks She Can uses music, repetition, rhythm and audience cues to ensure a theatrical experience that is engaging, educational and entertaining for the young audience members.
“The Little Choo-Choo That Thinks She Can is the perfect introduction to the theatre for children,” IRT’s Associate Artistic Director and Production Director Benjamin Hanna said. “Parents and guardians will delight in the way this play is designed to celebrate and encourage imaginative, creative play.”
Returning to the IRT and the Exploring Stages series is Devan Mathias, who brought Mo Willems’ character of Piggie to life in Elephant & Piggie’s “We Are in a Play!” during the 2018-2019 season. Mathias will play Sister, and Butler student Isaiah Moore will play Brother. The pair will tell the story with help from the Conductor, played by Frankie Bolda, as well through opportunities for the children in the audience to be a part of the action.
This daytime production features storytime seating where children and adults can sit on the floor, in addition to chair options along the back or side of the theatre. There will be pre- and post-show activities for an experience totaling 75 minutes. You can purchase tickets online or by calling the IRT Ticket Office at 317.635.5252.
WHERE: Indiana Repertory Theatre, 140 W Washington Street, IRT Cabaret
RUN DATES: October 9 - 27, various times. The Little Choo-Choo That Thinks She Can is approximately 75 minutes, including pre- and post-show activities. Tickets and performance schedule available at IRTlive.com.
TICKETS: Tickets start at $8. Click to buy.
CAST & CREATIVE TEAM:
FRANKIE BOLDA | Conductor
DEVAN MATHIAS | Sister
ISAIAH N. B. MOORE | Brother
JAMES STILL | Playwright
BENJAMIN HANNA | Director
KERRY LEE CHIPMAN | Scenic Designer
RACHEL ANN SAYLOR | Costume Designer
MICHAEL JACKSON | Lighting Designer
CORBIN FRITZ | Sound Designer
For more information contact Kerry Barmann, Marketing Communications Manager at email@example.com or 317.916.4824.
ABOUT THE IRT
Founded in 1971, the Indiana Repertory Theatre (IRT) is the largest professional not-for-profit theatre in the state and one of the leading regional theatres in the country. The mission of the Indiana Repertory Theatre is to produce top-quality, professional theatre and related activities, providing experiences that will engage, surprise, challenge, and entertain people throughout their lifetimes, helping us build a vital and vibrant community.
The IRT produces top-quality, professional theatre that engages, surprises, challenges and entertains people throughout their lifetimes, helping to build a vital and vibrant community.
Marketing Communications Manager
If you are interested in reviewing a production and would like to receive media passes please email us.