Free physical theater event to feature history of Rowan Oak

Published 12:38 pm Thursday, March 28, 2024

Director/Choreographer Jennifer Mizenko and Historian Rhondalyn Peairs have teamed up to create an immersive physical theater experience of the history at Rowan Oak.

“Moving Spirits II: A Deeper Understanding of Rowan Oak Through Movement, Dance and Song,” is a site-specific dance movement performance on the grounds of Rowan Oak, that uses specific locations on the property to tell the stories of the people and the place.

The show will be held at 5 p.m. on April 14 at Rowan Oak.

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Music for the show was composed and arranged by Damein Wash.

The audience will stand amongst the performers and follow the story from site to site. Good walking shoes are recommended. The performance is free of charge and will last approximately 40 minutes, with a Q&A afterward.

The performance will begin at the front of the house in the circular rock garden where the system of slavery will be examined. Behind the big house, the performance will bring to life the relationship between the slave dwelling and the kitchen.

An Imbongi (African prophet) will examine the relationship between Caroline Barr Clark and William Faulkner.

“Inspiration for this performance came in the fall of 2022 during a University of Mississippi Slavery Research Group Meeting. Based on our collaboration in the fall of 2019, Rhondalyn and I set out to create a new work at Rowan Oak that goes beyond what is commonly known,” said director/choreographer Jennifer Mizenko. “It is important to me the story is told on the site where it happened because the spirits of these people are alive in the soil and the atmosphere of Rowan Oak.”

The cast of 20 is made up of local Oxonians, multi-generational (ages 12 – 84) and multi-cultural. Most of the cast has little to no experience, but a big desire to tell the stories of people who stories have not been told.

“I found the first Moving Spirits very powerful,” said cast member Rachel Coleman. “They tackled important experiences and stories that are hard to hear and I imagine, hard to embody. But it was done with great care and reverence for the ‘spirits’ and the dancers. I am excited about participating in such a powerful project, bringing important and untold stories to light.”

A golf cart will be provided for anyone with ambulatory challenges, and a limited number of camper chairs will be available for those who need to sit during the performance.

Rowan Oak is located at 916 Old Taylor Road. Parking is limited.