Indian Midsummer

Saturday,  April 27, 2024
7:00 p.m. Doors Open; 7:30 p.m. Start

Theater Arts eXperimental Theater,  UC Santa Cruz

More event details here

Indian Midsummer

Karen Tei Yamashita, librettist

Karlton Hester, composer

This event is curated by Karlton Hester and presented by the UC Santa Cruz Digital Arts and New Media and Music Department as part of the April in Santa Cruz Festival. Co-sponsored by The Humanities Institute.


This theatrical performance includes a staged reading of an operetta within a dance/videographic play.


Carl Erez, actor

Quyen Pham, actor

Vahid Jahandari, actor

Robin Robinson, actor

Justin Hammer, actor

Gabriela Anger, actor

Ruby Kastner, actor

Andrea J. Oliveira, actor


In May of 2014, celebrated writer Ursula K. Le Guin gave a reading of her work in Santa Cruz as a keynote to a conference on the question of the Anthropocene. She was joined on stage by professors at UC Santa Cruz, James Clifford and Donna Haraway, also celebrated for their philosophical thinking in anthropology and the sciences. That event provided a journey from Clifford’s critical essays on the story of anthropologist Alfred Kroeber and Ishi, the last Yahi, who emerged from the California forest in 1911 and Le Guin’s familial past as the daughter the Kroebers—her speculative writing founded in the California landscape, to Le Guin’s influence on Haraway’s seminal feminist work in animal-human relationships.

Notes from Librettist Karen Tei Yamashita

What emerges in this retelling is a story of our past into the future, presented here in three short plays: the emergence of Ishi, his tribal extinction and brief friendship with Alfred Kroeber; the struggle of the utopian vision of Ursula Le Guin; and the speculative future of Haraway’s story, “Camille.” The stories are layered one upon the other in the backdrop of the Shakespearean narrative, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, a dream induced by fairy powder in the redwood forest of Santa Cruz, and retold by Ishi himself, along with Puck and Mowgli. 

Notes from Composer Karlton Hester

The musical context layers represent Mother Nature’s dislike of disruptive delays in harmonic resonance and lack of organic empathy. Saturn is symbolic of a karmic imprint that emerges within consciousness relating to the natural world and the impact of human activity on its condition resulting from individually and collectively evolved experiences. It represents challenges carried from past incarnations from which our destiny evolves. Thus, “Saturn’s Return” is an astrological time of reckoning where we take responsibility for entire life cycles. It is a period of great transformation and enhanced awareness of who we are, our inherent goals, and our evolution patterns. 


Karen Tei Yamashita, librettist

Karlton Hester, composer

Marianne Weems, production consultant

Professor Yangxi, choreographer 

Taotao Huang, student choreographer

Yaxuan Xu, student choreographer

Mandjou Kone, choreographer

Steph Layton, cinematographer

Heeyoung Choi, music stage manager

Ronaldo Lopes de Oliveira, artist 

Amaya Walsh Saldivar, theatrical stage manager

Lucy Mae S.P. Burns, dramaturge

Mandjou Kone

Professor Yangxi 

Taotao Huang

Yaxuan Xu