Martha Redbone & Aaron Whitby: Bone Hill (work-in-progress)
Martha Redbone and Aaron Whitby’s newest work is Bone Hill, a devised, interdisciplinary musical theater piece that brings to light an important piece of American history that has never been told. Inspired by the lives of Redbone’s family in the hills of coalmining Appalachia, Bone Hill is the story of one woman’s return to her childhood homeland in Harlan County, Kentucky, where her family dwelled for centuries. Steeped in a celebration of American music and told through the voices of four generations of Cherokee women, Bone Hill is a story about connections—to the land, to culture, and to each other—the sacredness of these connections and the ruptures that threaten to extinguish them.
Dark and violent at times, Bone Hill is uncompromising in its desire to be honest about uncomfortable subjects, particularly colonization and race. The piece addresses issues and stories rarely heard in musical theater: the plight of the Cherokee people who returned home after the Trail of Tears, the U.S. government’s racial reclassification legislatures of the Mid-Atlantic states, the American Indian and African-American interracial dynamic, and the ancient burial mounds on the Eastern seaboard, land which was desecrated for coal and the building of new mining towns during the early 1800s. Beyond reflecting the cultural and aesthetic diversity of today’s theater, Bone Hill adds missing narratives—racial dynamics between Native and African Americans, Native American and European, stories from the perspective of women of color living in Appalachia, their culture and music. It reveals erased and forgotten truths and it does so with humor, pathos, and exuberance.
Bone Hill is commissioned by Joe’s Pub and the Public Theater, an award recipient of the NEFA National Theater Project Creation and Touring Grant, National Performance Network Creation Fund and Lincoln Center.
General Admission: Seated