Saturday, August 3, 2019

Menil and Her Heart

This Native American story already has touched many hearts, and now, a play written by teenager Isabella Madrigal will be performed again in Redlands TODAY, Saturday, Aug. 3, 2019.
The public is invited to a free performance of “Menil and her Heart” at 7 p.m. at the Glen Wallichs Theater, Theatre Arts Building, University of Redlands, Redlands. (The building is across the street from Sylvan Park, off University Ave.)
This time the play, “Menil and her Heart,” has support from a $5,000 grant that 17-year-old playwright Isabella Madrigal and her 15-year-old sister, Sophia, received to support work in reviving Native American cultural storytelling.
The Story
The nonprofit Learning Center partnered with the young playwright earlier this year to host rehearsals and workshops leading to a premier performance at the Center in Banning. More than 100 people from throughout the region came to laugh, cry, and connect with the play, which attracted national attention from Indian Country Today news service, and earned playwright Isabella Madrigal the gold level award in Girl Scouts, the highest honor a Girl Scout can achieve.

The Dragon Kim Foundation, based in Orange County, then offered a fellowship of up to $5,000 to Isabella and her 15-year-old sister, Sophia, offering mentoring and leadership training to help the teens realize their vision of cultural storytelling. 

The sisters have been leading rehearsals and participating in workshops at Dorothy Ramon Learning Center in Banning for months, aimed on improving their production. The cast includes locals such as 82-year-old Ernest Siva (Cahuilla-Serrano), Morongo Reservation’s cultural adviser and historian, and president of Dorothy Ramon Learning Center. 

About Isabella and Sophia Madrigal
Both sisters, of Temecula, are of Cahuilla and Chippewa descent, and have been active in their indigenous community since an early age. Both have been singing, dancing, and acting since an early age and are enrolled in the Acting Conservatory at Orange County School of the Arts, often making a hectic commute to Dorothy Ramon Learning Center in Banning during rush hour with their parents, Luke and Renda Madrigal, for their rehearsals and workshops. 

As a young Native actress, Isabella Madrigal said she became increasingly aware of the lack of Native representation in the arts. It wasn’t just about the Native faces missing in the media, she said; the indigenous perspective also seemed missing from the national narrative. The Madrigal sisters began researching traditional Cahuilla stories in order to uncover these erased but vital stories. While compiling these stories they became aware of the thread linking these stories to the global epidemic of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls, which has succeeded in sparking outrage within indigenous communities across the globe. They saw how these ancient stories can help reconnect and heal people. Isabella Madrigal then wrote her full-length play, “Menil and her Heart,” which follows the disappearance of a Cahuilla girl, and the efforts of her sister to find her by journeying into an alternate realm of ancient Cahuilla stories.

Come join us!

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