ReWritten: HISTORY IN A NEW LIGHT
July 28/29 , 2023
What can you write that you can’t say out loud? When you read between the lines of history books, where do you find your story? And what really happened between Herman Melville and Nathaniel Hawthorne, and what can that teach us today?
ReWritten, a new dance-theatre performance, reflects on these questions and the intimate relationship between Melville and Hawthorne as a way to explore queerness, history, and the intimacy that arises in collaboration. The relationship between Hawthorne and Melville has been characterized as one of the most fruitful and mysterious friendships in American letters… yet the letters from Hawthorne to Melville are missing. ReWritten springboards from this historic gap and time hops between now and then as an attempt to expand how we see ourselves in these stories. Co-created by Matthew Cumbie and Tom Truss, ReWritten comes to the Adams Theater on July 28 and 29.
The show has been in development since 2019 and received a New Work New England grant from NEFA in 2022. Now, it’s being presented at the theater in partnership with MOSAIC, MCLA’s newly rebranded program for Open Shared Arts and Intersectional Culture.
It’s work that has engaged an interdisciplinary creative team of artists and scholars and weaves together dance, music, visual art, projection, and text to reimagine an intergenerational love story that has shaped American literature.
“The power of the stories that we create for ourselves, and the power of the stories we tell ourselves, [allows us to] see ourselves and know ourselves more fully,” Cumbie told The Berkshire Edge when the work was being performed at Arrowhead, Melville’s Pittsfield home, in 2021. “I think history-telling and history-making are creative acts. At some point, decisions are being made about what to omit and what to include, so it is a form of storytelling. It is not pure fact, even though that is what we are told to understand it as.”
The show is directed by Rudy Ramirez and features projection design by Bessie-award-winning Roma Flowers, set and lighting design by Jeremy Winchester, original music by Summer Kodama, and visual art influence by internationally-celebrated artist Diane Samuels. Research and dramaturgy for ReWritten have been led by queer scholar Katherine Stubbs, and documentation efforts have been led by Berkshire-based artists Larry Burke and Shirin Kazimov. Production management is directed by Sarah Chapin, and Alex Aleksandrov and Anthony Simon have been integral to its continued success.
“ReWritten can be understood as part of a recent effort among queer artists to recapture and recast the past, in order to create a new genealogy for ourselves in the present, and by extension to imagine new possibilities of social relation and social formation in the future,” said Stubbs.