arts

Two-night 'Indiana Retold' event to allow Hoosiers to share stories of belonging



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An entrance to the Lee Norvelle Theatre and Drama Center sits Jan. 24 at 275 N. Jordan Ave. Indiana residents will be able to tell their stories Tuesday and Thursday evening from 7-9 p.m. for "Indiana Retold: Stories of the Hoosier State" in the Wells-Metz Theater. Anna Brown

Indiana residents will share their stories of belonging from 7-9 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday at the Wells-Metz Theatre for "Indiana Retold: Stories of the Hoosier State."

This event is one of many in the Indiana Remixed festival, extending through April. The Indiana Remixed festival will invite artists, writers and scholars from around the state to see if there exists an Indiana aesthetic, said Joseph Hiland, associate director of the IU Arts & Humanities Council.

Hiland is organizing the event in partnership with the Asian Culture Center, Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center, LGBTQ+ Culture Center, First Nations Educational and Cultural Center and La Casa Latino Cultural Center, as well as Arts & Humanities and Theatre Department staff.

“The basic idea behind Indiana Retold is that everybody in the state has a story to tell about belonging, living, creating in the Hoosier state,” said Hiland. “We hope that by bringing several dozen people together for a night of storytelling, we use these individual stories to tell the larger story of the state.

Tuesday, during the first hour, six student storytellers invited by the campus’s various culture centers will share four-minute stories. Students will be judged on an Olympic scale to declare a winner of the night, judged by a panel of randomly selected audience members.

The second hour will feature stories of belonging and living in Indiana from invited guests like Elise Smith, Ph.D. student; Letty Newkirk, IU alumna and docent at the Eskenazi Museum of Art; Kerry Thomson, executive director of the Center for Rural Engagement at IU; and Jeff McCabe, an owner of brewery and distillery Hard Truth Hills in Nashville, Indiana.

IU junior Meloddy Gao will share her story of belonging Tuesday. Last year, she worked with the Asian Culture Center to propose an Asian/Pacific American Thematic Community. It will be available to students next fall at Teter Quadrangle.

“My story highlights not only the story of becoming a Hoosier, but also remembering how special and unique it is to be a Hoosier and really treasuring that,” said Gao. “For me, realizing how special Indiana is was something I discovered after I left.”

Caleb King, a senior studying neuroscience, is also speaking Tuesday. He is the president of the Native American Student Association and a member of the Seldovia Village Tribe in Alaska. He will talk about his experience of moving to a new place that isn’t representative of where you come from.

On Jan. 30, statewide figures including Ruben Marté, an Indiana State Police captain; Jean Merrill, director of inclusion for the National College Athletic Association; Chris Chyung, state representative of Indiana House District 15 and Samrat Upadhyay, Nepalese author and distinguished professor in the English department at IU will share stories, among other visiting guests.

Hiland said he hopes this event shows people the breadth of experiences and lifestyles in Indiana. 

“I hope that people get a stronger sense of what it means to live in Indiana and how the lives of individuals within our state transcend some of the clichés that people might have about the Midwest or about Indiana as a flyover state,” said Hiland.

Tickets for both nights are free and available for reservation on the Theater, Drama, and Contemporary Dance website.

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