'Beyond Heritage' offers a new take on Native arts

Posted: Thursday, November 15, 2001

Blending rap music, videography and theater with storytelling, traditional Native dance and art, Ishmael Hope wants to tie the past to the future.

"Our heritage is what happened 200 years ago. Our culture is everyday," Hope said.

Hope, 19, organized "Beyond Heritage," a cultural variety show with performances, food and displays of visual arts. The event runs from 6-9:30 p.m. Friday at ANB Hall.

Hope, an Alaska Native who grew up in Juneau, said he wants the event to be a celebration of culture, but not in a condescending way.

"I'm not trying to be politically correct or to lecture anyone," he said. "I'm really trying to make a good art show."

Hope said the idea sprang from another project. He had begun work on a play, "40 Days," and was talking to a friend about developing and producing the play.

"That led to the idea of a collaborative production," Hope said. He then brainstormed with actor and director Annie Stokes, who brought him to the Juneau Arts and Humanities Council, which offered to sponsor the event.

"I think it's critical that organizations in our town give voice to our talented young people," said arts council Director Sybil Davis. "We want to provide opportunities for them to develop themselves and present their work."

Crafts and food tables will be set up, including artwork by the Chilton brothers, Rick Beasley, Charles Buggs and Gary Waid. Tony Tengs will have Chilkat ice cream cones, and pelmeni and espresso will be served.

The evening will include poetry reading, storytelling and dance performance. Nora Dauenhauer, Marie Olson and Andrew Hope III are among those scheduled to perform. Maddie Levi of Juneau will do a short presentation of a Raven clan song.

Hope has finished the first draft of his play, "40 Days," and said Stokes has been coaching him to present a 10-minute monologue from the script at Beyond Heritage.

Several short videos will be screened, including a section from Naa Kahidi Theater's "Yupik Antigone," staged in the mid-1980s.

"Plank House," a 10-minute video also will be featured. It was written by Chris Mierziewski and taped this summer by Theresa Manzaneres, who also directed and edited the piece. Ishmael Hope is the actor in the short video.

Hope said he got his start as a performer working with Juneau storyteller Brett Dillingham on a Juneau-Douglas High School drama department production. Hope went on to work in a Perseverance Theatre play, "Moby Dick," last spring. "Beyond Heritage" will reprise two dances from that production.

Four of the original six-member cast of "Moby Dick" are in "Winter's Tale," the current play on stage at Perseverance. They will join Hope at ANB Hall at 6 p.m. to open the event and then rush over to Perseverance to prepare for "The Winter's Tale."

Beyond Heritage tickets are $12, $25 for a family, $8 for students and seniors, and are available at the door, Hearthside Books and the Juneau Arts and Humanities Council.

Riley Woodford can be reached at rileyw@juneauempire.com.

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