Misdemeanor Dream

In 2019, Aanmitaagzi began collaborating with Spiderwoman Theater on their newest project, Misdemeanor Dream. As described by Spiderwoman Theater on their website:

Misdemeanor Dream is a multi-generational theatre project which brings together performers, designers and cultural practitioners from Native and First Nations communities across Turtle Island. Weaving uncomfortable conversations with irreverent humour, the project sheds a light on personal and community stories of chaos and reclamation, of tricksters and spirits, of journeys through the star worlds and the between worlds. Misdemeanor Dream explores our cultural sources using the rhythms and songs of our original languages and traditionally – inspired installation art spaces and environments, daring to dream, to act and to ensure our collective futures.


Development for the project began in November 2019 with a set and body-mapping intensive held at Big Medicine Studio. Participants, including Penny Couchie, Sid Bobb, Muriel Miguel, Imelda Villalon, Megan Lozicki Paulin, Tasheena Sarazin, and Lily Shearer (Moogahlin Theatre), created individual life-size body maps to investigate narratives of empowerment, self-awareness, and connection. A collaborative map was then created by the artists along with a maquette of a preliminary set design for Misdemeanor Dream.

In January 2020, the set was further developed to include five storytelling panels inspired by the body mapping workshop, a large spiral portal, and other installation pieces. The collaborative panels were created in Nipissing by lead artist Sherry Guppy, with supporting artists Megan Lozicki Paulin, Tasheena Sarazin, Chris Couchie, and Gayle Weston. The set & installation pieces created at Big Medicine Studio, and artists and cast members from Aanmitaagzi then went to New York City for the premiere showing of Misdemeanor Dream at the Abrons Arts Centre in February 2020, just a few weeks before the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the world.


Over the next year and a half, development continued through zoom meetings. Parts of the script and set design were reworked and re-envisioned, and artists left and joined the project. The project, like so many others, was also impacted directly by the pandemic as we lost family members, colleagues, and friends to COVID-19 and pandemic-related causes.


In fall 2021, work on Misdemeanor Dream started up again at the Studio for the next showing of the work at La Mama’s Ellen Stewart Theater in NYC in March 2022. Aanmitaagzi held ongoing artist days to research and develop ideas for the set & installation pieces which continued into the new year. The storytelling panels were lengthened and expanded, a new larger spiral portal and a 15 and a half foot tree were created, and videos featuring the performers from Canada that could not participate in the production in person were produced to be projected on stage as part of the performance. Rehearsals were conducted via zoom starting in February, and the set & installation pieces and videos were sent to NYC in early March. The show opened at the Ellen Stewart Theater on March 10, 2022 and ran through March 27, 2022.