Cherokee actor, writer, and activist DeLanna Studi leads audiences on an incredible adventure as she recounts her journey tracing the path of her ancestors through a 900-mile trek she took along the Trail of Tears.
The Moss Arts Center presents four evening performances of Studi’s powerful one-woman show “And So We Walked” — on Monday, Oct. 11, through Thursday, Oct. 14, at 7:30 p.m. — seated onstage of the center’s Anne and Ellen Fife Theatre, located within the Street and Davis Performance Hall at 190 Alumni Mall.
Studi dreamed of following the footsteps her ancestors were forced to travel along the Trail of Tears. In 2015 she embarked on a six-week journey along the route her great-great-grandparents took in the 1830s when they were forced to relocate from their homelands with more than 17,000 Cherokee people.
A powerful show honoring Indigenous people everywhere, “And So We Walked” recounts her incredible journey to truly understand her own identity and the conflicts of her nation.
Studi performed excerpts of the piece last fall during a virtual performance for the Moss Arts Center’s “HomeStage” series, which included a conversation with Mae Hey, assistant professor of American Indian Studies at Virginia Tech. She also participated in virtual discussions with Native students at Virginia Tech.
Now Studi performs the full play live for an audience seated on the Anne and Ellen Fife Theatre stage, with four performances presented in celebration of Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Portraying multiple characters and incorporating humor and emotional touchpoints, Studi blazes a path squarely into the heart of the audience member.
“It isn’t just my story about my journey,” said Studi. “It is a Cherokee story, one that transcends my own personal identity and experiences. It belongs to the Cherokee people, past and present; to the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma and Eastern Band of Cherokee in North Carolina; and to the dozens of people across the country who helped me complete this project.”
Studi has originated roles in more than 18 world premieres, including 14 native productions, and she has received numerous awards for her performances in the Hallmark/ABC mini-series “Dreamkeeper” and Chris Eyre’s “Edge of America.” She is co-artistic director of America’s only equity Native American theatre company, Native Voices at the Autry, and serves as chair of SAG-AFTRA’s National Native Committee. “And So We Walked” will run off-Broadway in New York City later in October.
This engagement is presented in partnership with the American Indian and Indigenous Community Center and supported in part by gifts from Mr. Bruce Prichard and Mrs. Nancy Beville Prichard and Larry and Lindsay Bowman.