June 12th & 14th, 2009, Governor’s Island, New York City
Henry Hudson’s Forgotten Maps was performed by Harmattan Theater on June 12 and 14, 2009. It is a site specific 40 minute performance installation produced on the Eastern shore of Governor’s Island, New York City. The performance marks the importance of Governor’s Island as the first encounter between Native Americans and Dutch colonial settlers in New York City. The dramatic backdrop of a historic sandy beach, the Brooklyn Bridge, the cityscape of Brooklyn dockyards, and the crescendo of pounding waves provide the panoramic mise en scene for this mixed media performance about cartography, ghosts, ecology and indigenous rights. The piece uses theater, dance, poetry, music, text, site specific illustrations and ritual. The performance draws on archival Vingboon maps of the Dutch East India Company and the ethnographic implications of the sale of Governors Island for the price of two axeheads, a handful of nails and some white beads, to explore connections between New York City’s historic past and our urban future. Traditions of Indian environmental theater, Odissi dancing, Tango concertina,ecstatic Carnatic vocal traditions of Bhakti music, Cape Verdean tonalities and the poetry of Dante Aligheri’s Fifth Canto from The Divine Comedy ground the 40 minute performance. The ghost of Henry Hudson threads through the performance as a mournful presence in search of arrival, haunting the shores of New York City with his ghostly travels. Tracing actors’ and dancers’ movements are the street drawings in milk, sugar, and egg whites, done by Victoria Marshall and Jose De Jesus. The performance involved 10 cast members including Adam Lelyveld, Carol Mathews-Nicoli, Lisabeth During, Martine Gak, James Cascaito, May Joseph, Puma Perl, Latha Ramprasad, Nandini Sikand. Directed by May Joseph.