Geek Gal Caroline Cao Reviews Ajijaak on Turtle Island, An Indigenous Children’s Tale!By Caroline Cao | March 2, 2023 | Entertainment
Anyone who hangs around the theatre scene in New York City may notice puppeteer pioneer Jim Henson’s influence wandering or floating upon the stage. First, the Sesame Street monsters finally got an off-Broadway show last spring. The Dark Crystal-inspired The Immortal Jellyfish Girl also blazed its way into sold-out performances. Then there’s the sweet family environmental musical Ajijaak on Turtle Island, populated with 17 vibrant puppets, 5 kites and 12 flags crafted by the Jim Henson’s Creature Shop.
The Indigenous-centered storytelling is tailored by writer Ty Defoe (puppeteer and co-director alongside Heather Henson). Narrated by a motherly Kimberly JaJuan (as the Grandmother Aki), the adventure plot is a humble one for children. A young whooping crane Ajijaak (a perfectly plucky Vicki Oceguera) is born on the Turtle Island. When a fire cruelly separates the young crane from her parents, she must travel the world, not only find them but to also gather the earthly morals and treasures for her medicine bundle. Sewn into Ajijaak’s journey are spiritual lyrics by Dawn Avery (Avery, Kevin Tarrant, Larry Mitchell composed the music) with ritualistic choreography by Jen Olivares.
It’s a crying shame this communal fantasia is contained to the John Jay College proscenium theater and a one-night-only performance here in the city (with other tours elsewhere). Ajijaak on Turtle Island is threaded with invaluable instructions and morals about healing the earth.
For more information on Ajijaak on Turtle Island touring locations, visit: ajijaak.com.
photo credit: Theo Cote