If you are looking for Chicago Theater that is different, unique and inspiring, do not miss Mohegan theater-maker Madeline Sayet’s Solo performance, “Where We Belong”, at The Goodman Theater in the downtown Loop (170 N Dearborn St, Chicago, IL 60601). This national tour premiere at The Goodman is a fitting venue for this amazing performer and performance.
Sayet journeys across geographic borders, personal history and cultural legacy in search of a place to belong. Her performance is 90 minutes of heartfelt, haunting and eye-opening testimony of struggling to find her true home, identity and understanding of her ancestry. Sayet travels to England in 2015 to pursue a PhD in Shakespeare. There, she finds a country that refuses to acknowledge its ongoing role in colonialism—just as the Brexit vote threatens to further disengage the UK from the wider world.
Sayet also presents a timeline of history for her audience, starting when England braves her Native ancestors in the 1700s, following treatise betrayals, which forces us to open our eyes and consider what it meant to the Natives and what it now means to all of us to belong in an increasingly globalized world.
The play is appropriate and applies to our world’s current problem areas, such as racism, language, ignorance, personal rights, identity and questioning where all of us truly belong. Sayet touches upon all these factors and much more, in a gripping and touching way.
A big part of Sayet’s journey of searching for where she belongs focuses on her study and love of Shakespeare in London, England, where she was working on a PhD. She identifies and connects with Shakespeare’s language and plays, versus her own Mohegan language, which is now dead. She tells her story and journey to see who she really is as a Mohegan, including how Shakespeare helped her to discover herself, including efforts to bring life once more to the Mohegan language. It is also powerful hearing Sayet speak the actual Mohegan language, which adds to the show’s impact and overall message to its audience.
Sayet is a remarkable performer in her own right, as well as a writer, director and educator. Her mother was also a writer and inspired her with her own theatrical arts and Mohegan identity.
It is also worth mentioning how beautiful and impactful the minimalist stage and set design is for “Where We Belong”. Various lighting, lamps and sounds are seamless throughout the show and enhances the overall production.
I left the theater with a new appreciation and understanding of Native stories being told and passed on to the next generation. I also took with me a new awareness of some of the issues this amazing one woman show is addressing as she educates the audience.
Photos: Liz Lauren
Where We Belong appears June 24 – July 24 in the 350-seat flexible Owen Theatre.
Tickets ($15 – $45, subject to change) are available at The Goodman Theater website or by phone at 312.443.3800.
ENHANCED AND ACCESSIBLE PERFORMANCES
Visit Goodman theatre.org/Access for more information about Goodman Theatre’s accessibility efforts.
Spanish Subtitled Performance: Friday, July 15 at 8pm – An LED sign presents dialogue in Spanish.
ASL-Interpreted Performance: Saturday, July 23 at 2pm – A professional American Sign Language interpreter signs the action/text as played.
Touch Tour and Audio-Described Performance: Sunday, July 7, 12:30pm Touch Tour; 2pm performance – The action/text is audibly enhanced for patrons via headset. NOTE: Touch Tours for the 2021/2022 Season will not have access to the stage due to current health and safety protocols, but will feature alternate pre-show sensory introductions.
Open-Captioned Performance: Sunday, July 24 at 2pm – An LED sign presents dialogue in sync with the performance.