Flying Bird’s Diary
Oct 22 – Oct 23, 2022
222 Sargent Drive
About the Show
By Melissa Tantaquidgeon Zobel
Directed by Madeline Sayet
The story of a true Connecticut hero, Flying Bird aka Fidelia Fielding/Jeets Bodernosh shor (1827-1908). We first encounter Flying Bird, as a young Mohegan girl, in the 1800s, in a world attempting to erase everything she believes in. As the years pass, Flying Bird faces seemingly impossible obstacles but never loses sight of her goal: to save her language and culture against all odds.
We invite you to learn more about the Mohegan Tribe and the Native communities of Quinnetucket (Connecticut). Use the button for links to resources you can read and explore to learn more about Mohegan history and culture.Mohegan Tribe Resources
Melissa Tantaquidgeon Zobelshe/her Playwright
Melissa Tantaquidgeon Zobel (MOHEGAN) was trained in Mohegan traditional knowledge by Medicine Woman Gladys Tantaquidgeon (1899-2005). Tantaquidgeon Zobel, herself, served as Mohegan Medicine Woman from 2008-2022. She currently holds the traditional title of Tribal Historian, in addition to her job as Creative Media Liaison for the tribe. She earned a B.S.F.S. in History/Diplomacy from Georgetown University, a History M.A. from the University of Connecticut, and a Creative Writing M.F.A. from Fairfield University. Her books–which focus on Native history, the environment and spirituality- include: Medicine Trail: The Life and Lessons of Gladys Tantaquidgeon (University of Arizona Press, 2000), Oracles: A Novel (2004), Wabanaki Blues (Poisoned Pen Press, 2015) and Snowy Strangeways (Urban Farmhouse Press, 2018). Melissa is also an award-winning writer for stage and screen. Flying Bird’s Diary has won twenty-five competitions as a screenplay and stage play. The play version was also a finalist in Eugene O’Neill Theatre’s 2020-2021 National Playwright’s Conference. Melissa thanks all in attendance for taking the time to experience this story about Connecticut’s complex and little-known indigenous history in the Victorian era.
Madeline Sayetshe/her Director
Madeline Sayet is a Mohegan theatre maker who believes the stories we pass down inform our collective possible futures. Currently on tour with her solo play Where We Belong, produced by Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company in Association with the Folger Shakespeare Library, she will be performing at Seattle Rep and The Public Theater this Fall. She serves as an Assistant Professor at Arizona State University with the Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies (ACMRS), and is the Executive Director of the Yale Indigenous Performing Arts Program (YIPAP). For her work as a director and writer she has been honored as a Forbes 30 Under 30 in Hollywood & Entertainment, TED Fellow, MIT Media Lab Director’s Fellow, NCAIED Native American 40 Under 40, and a recipient of The White House Champion of Change Award from President Obama.
Stephanie Yankwitt, CSAshe/her Casting Director (tbd casting co.)
Stephanie Yankwitt, CSA Theatrical collaborators include Long Wharf Theatre, Soho Rep, Tectonic Theater Project, NAATCO., Primary Stages, La Jolla Playhouse, and Miami New Drama. Current film collaborators include ongoing work with Culture House, O Positive Films, AFI, Lexicon Films and The Gotham Film & Media Institute. Upcoming work includes the ‘Growing Up’, a series on Disney+ and ‘Who You Callin’ a Bitch’ a Netflix series – both for Culture House, and a world premiere of Shayok Misha Chowdhury’s play PUBLIC OBSCENITIES for Soho Rep & NAATCO this winter.
Tanis Parenteaushe/her Casting Associate (tbd casting co.)
Tanis Parenteau is a member of the Métis Nation of Alberta (Cree). As an actor, she has appeared on Billions, FBI: Most Wanted, Designated Survivor, House of Cards, Gossip Girl and Tribal. On stage she has starred in plays at The Public Theater, Signature Theater, 59E59 Theaters, La Mama and Oregon Shakespeare Festival. As a producer, she uplifts contemporary Native stories by Native writers that smash harmful Native stereotypes. Tanis is on the SAG-AFTRA National Native Americans Committee, a member of the North American Indigenous Center of New York and the Tribal Liaison at AlterTheater. Tanis has assisted and consulted on casting projects at Soho Rep, The Gotham Film and Media Institute, Tectonic Theater Project, Labyrinth Theater, New Dramatists, Nickelodeon, Playwright’s Center and Long Wharf Theatre.
Amanda Nita Luke-Sayedshe/her Stage Manager
Amanda Nita Luke-Sayed (Cherokee/Choctaw) is a freelance, Indigenous Producer and Stage Manager. She is a graduate of the Yale School of Drama where she received her MFA in Stage Management. She has worked across the country at large theaters including Yale Rep, Syracuse Stage, The Old Globe, McCarter Theatre, Red Bull Theater, the Houston Ballet and many more. In recent years Amanda has branched out into events in addition to her theater work. She has produced Drag Shows, Festival and other large-scale events. Amanda is a proud member of Actors Equity. She is based in New York City where she freelances focusing on advocating for Stage Managers as Artistic Collaborators and increasing the visibility of Native Theater Artists.
Daniel Leeman Smithhe/they Associate Director
Daniel Leeman Smith (Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma) is a scrappy, multidisciplinary artist with an entrepreneurial mindset working as a stage director, playwright, and educator. His work is devoted to the exploration of community, education, activism, and art, and he endeavors to use theatre as a catalyst for the restoration of civic dialogue. Favorite credits include: Built on Bones and Poyvfekcv (Yale Indigenous Performing Arts Program), Repulsing the Monkey (White Horse Tavern), Neechie-Itas (OK Indigenous Theatre Co), Perhaps the World Ends Here (Local Classic Repertory), and Pry the Lid Off (OK Contemporary/OKC Ballet). Daniel holds a BFA and MA from OKCU, completed the graduate physical/devised theatre program at the SITI Company, and is a doctoral candidate at NYU.
Cast (alpha order)
Bruce Two Dogs Bozsumhe/him Henry
Bruce Two Dogs Bozsum, Council of Elders, Mohegan Tribe. Currently one of seven elected Elders Council Members for the Mohegan Tribe of CT. Former Chairman of the Board for Mohegan Sun Casino and Chairman of the Mohegan Tribe. Past appearances and shows include Lead role of Undercover Boss, Dinner Impossible, Casino Night and Wedding Day, Faces of New England and numerous other documentaries.
Jolie Cloutiershe/her Gladys
Jolie Cloutier is a young Native American actress residing in New York City. Jolie is an enrolled member of the Onondaga Nation Wolf Clan. Jolie has worked on a number of theater projects in the 4 years she has resided in New York, the most recent appearing as Helen in The Trojan Women (A Native American Adaptation) at Theater for The New City.
Madeline Easleyshe/her Emma
Madeline Easley is a Wyandotte actor, writer, and fundraiser currently located on Lenape homelands in New York City. She is a proud citizen of the Wyandotte Nation of Oklahoma (Porcupine Clan). Madeline is a 2021 First Peoples Fund Fellow and a 2022 Greenhouse Writing Resident at SPACE on Ryder Farm. She is one of six filmmakers who premiered films (The Feathered Girl) at “WE THE PEOPLES BEFORE” at the Kennedy Center this past summer. Recently, Madeline made her Off-Broadway acting debut with Signature Theatre’s SigSpace featuring Theatre For One: Déjà Vu (Octopus Theatricals). She has also been seen in workshops and performances with Baltimore Stage, Next Door at NYTW, NY Classical, and Carnegie Hall. BS in Theatre Performance – University of Evansville. Website: maddieeasley.com
Joan Henryshe/her Nonner Martha
Joan Henry This Composer/Performer/Artist/Educator, Dekanogisgi & Water Protector just opened the inaugural exhibit This Burning World at ICA San Francisco with Okla-Choctaw artist Jeffrey Gibson. Recent: Between Two Knees at Yale Rep. Favourite roles: Lady Macbeth, Paulina (The Winter’s Tale), Grandma Aki (Henson/Defoe’s B’way Ajijaak On Turtle Island). Distant past? Camelot, West Side Story 30th Anniversary Company. Concerts – International Festival of the Voice, Clearwater & NY Music Festivals, and Indigenous Peoples Day NYC & MA. Indigenous Ambassador, Macy’s 2020 Thanksgivings Day Parade; recently returned from Peace & Unity missions to Mexico, Guatemala & Ireland to speak at the UN. Director/Coordinator, Four Worlds Circles for the Four Worlds International Institute; Elder-Advisor & Inaugural Faculty, Four Worlds indigenous University (FWIU) & Vassar College’s Native Studies programs. https://earthsinger.net/
Allison Hudson Hicksshe/her Sally/Woman Chief
Allison Hudson Hicks is an actor and an enrolled member of the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation and is also Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. She can be seen in the Peacock/NBC Universal television series Rutherford Falls as Crystal in Season 1, and will be appearing in High Desert on Apple TV+. Her recent theater credits include Devilfish by Vera Starbard (Tlingit/Dena’ina Athabascan) at Perseverance Theater in Alaska, Mary Kathryn Nagle’s (Cherokee) Return to Niobrara at the Rose Theater, Omaha, NE and Bingo Hall by Dillon Chitto (Laguna Pueblo/Mississippi Choctaw) in Los Angeles, CA, The Native Voices at the Autry Play Festival, The Yale Indigenous Performing Arts Program Play Festival, The National New Play Festival and The John F. Kennedy Center Play Festival. Instagram: @allison_hudson_hicks
Bradley Lewishe/him John Henry/Stage Directions
Bradley Lewis is thrilled to be at Long Wharf! As a proud member of the Acoma Pueblo, he is honored to be a part of telling a very important Native story. Recently, Bradley has been seen Off-Broadway in Audrey: A New Musical as Gregory Peck, in IFC Films’ Resurrection opposite Rebecca Hall and Tim Roth, onstage portraying AA founder Bill Wilson in Bill W. and Lois W. opposite John Lloyd Bedford and Anne Twomey, and in Chase, an upcoming pilot premiering this Fall. He’d like to thank the people of Acoma, NM, director extraordinaire Madeline, and the amazing Stephanie Yankwitt and Tanis Parenteau for their unbroken chain of support. Website: bradleylewisactor.com
Trevor Hosteen McChristianHe/They/She William
Trevor Hosteen McChristian , originally from Wichita, Kansas, is thrilled to be with this company! Trevor is a two-spirit member of the Navajo Nation, and currently resides in Boston. Currently, Trevor is a Mail Program Manager with the Voter Participation Center focusing on increasing voter participation within the New American Majority. VoterParticipation.org. BFA Elon University. Past favorites include: Jack Kelly (Newsies, MTWichita), Tony Manero (Saturday Night Fever, Wagon Wheel Center for the Arts), Riff (West Side Story, Lexington Theatre Company). Many thanks to this wonderful cast, crew, and creative team, his family, friends, and partner Brian!
Opalanietethe/him Frank Speck/Mason Mather/Mariner
Opalanietet Ryan Victor Pierce, or “Opalanietet,” is a member of the Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape tribal nation of New Jersey. Upon graduating from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, Opalanietet has performed in workshops and productions at such renowned New York theatrical institutions as New Dramatists, LaMaMa E.T.C. and New York City Opera at Lincoln Center. In November of 2020, Opalanietet made history by giving the first-ever Lenape Land Acknowledgement at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on NBC. In 2012, Opalanietet founded Eagle Project, a theater company dedicated to exploring the American identity through the performing arts and our Native American heritage, http://www.eagleprojectarts.org. Through his leadership, Eagle Project has collaborated with and performed at the Public Theater, Nuyorican Poets Cafe, and Ashtar Theater in Palestine.
Jessica Ranvilleshe/they Miss Raymond
Jessica Ranville (Red River Metis) is originally from Manitoba and is based in NYC. Recent credits: Songs About Trains (Radical Evolution), Men On Boats (Tantrum Theater), Men On Boats (Baltimore Center Stage). Jessica has developed new works with The Lark, NY Stage & Film, WP Theater, The Drama League, New Ohio Theater and Blessed Unrest. She has developed her own work in residency with IRT Theater and is a teaching artist with IRT Theater and Brooklyn College’s BFA program. MFA: The New School for Drama. Jessicaranville.com
DeLanna Studishe/her Fidelia/Flying Bird
DeLanna Studi is a proud Cherokee citizen, and an actor/playwright whose theater credits include the First National Broadway Tour of August: Osage County, Off-Broadway’s Informed Consent and Gloria: A Life. She retraced her family’s footsteps along the Trail of Tears with her father and wrote her play And So We Walked. And So We Walked had its Off-Broadway debut at Minetta Lane and is available on Audible Theatre. She has created plays for Theatre for One, The Theatre Center, and Period Piece. TV credits include Dreamkeeper, Edge of America, Shameless, General Hospital, Z Nation, Goliath and Reservation Dogs. She is the Chair of SAG-AFTRA’s National Native Americans Committee, the Artistic Director of Native Voices at the Autry, and a 2022 USA Fellow. Instagram@DeLannaStudi and AndSoWeWalked.com