Kea and the Ark

Jun 17—Jul 23, 2023

An installation based on a new multidisciplinary work by Sebastienne Mundheim investigating the life of Newark ark-builder Kea Tawana. White Box Theatre and collaborators presented a workshop performance of the incubated work, which integrates movement, puppetry, storytelling, and live music at ArtYard’s McDonnell Theater on May 6 & 7.

Kea and the Ark is on view in ArtYard’s second-floor Laboratory Gallery through Sunday, July 23.

ArtYard supports the incubation of new work and commissioned White Box Theatre to engage with the mystery of Kea Tawana, a social activist, self-taught engineer, and ark-builder who made an 86-foot-long, three-story high ship from salvaged wood, stained glass, and other materials from abandoned buildings in Newark’s Central Ward. Mundheim was in residency at ArtYard in October 2022 and held community workshops to investigate Kea’s story through movement, writing, and object-making. Mundheim continued her work in two spring residencies at ArtYard, culminating in a public event, sharing performance development, discussion, and workshops.

Kea and the Ark takes us from the Doolittle raid in Japan in the 40s, across the Pacific, to a Hopi reservation, into Newark in the 60s, and to the quiet of the Passaic River.

Collaborators include Daniel de Jesus, Ain Gordon, Kennedy Candra, Harlee Trautman, Payton Smith, Peter Jacobs, Christianne Ebel, Elizabeth Jacobs, Eppchez Yes, and Caitlin Thompson. Early ideas for this piece were developed in residencies at ArcheDream for Humankind, Theatre Exile, and The Painted Bride.