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Lake Street Story Circle 2020

Lake Street Story Circles Project brings a cohort of ten artists together to hold Story Circles and create new performance work about life, spirit, resistance, politics, vision, relationships, history, business, survival and joy. Grounded on Lake Street, grounded in Minneapolis, grounded in story, in place and each other.  Join us. (check out 2019 here
Over two nights we shared the work of nine artists inspired by their Story Circles held over the summer
and a music video from The Muatas. 
Premiered October 16th and 17th, 2020 via Facebook Live. 
Created and Curated by Ellen Marie Hinchcliffe and Pangea World Theater
Production Manager—Suzanne Victoria Cross,
ASL Interpreter—Miranda H-Crawford, 
Video Coordinator—Jenny Zander
Artist Bios and project descriptions below. 

This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.

Watch Night One's Performance and Talkback:

Watch Night Two's Performance and Talkback:

Artist Bios

Rebecca Nichloson
Minneapolis: An Awakening, A Reckoning, A Search for Breath (Night Two)

Rebecca Nichloson leads a workshop via Zoom in which she shares her poem Minneapolis: An Awakening, A Reckoning, A Search for Breath and discusses its underlying themes. Participants are asked to respond to writing prompts and exercises and are encouraged to continue developing their pieces after the workshop. Watch Workshop Here!

Rebecca Nichloson (She/Her): Rebecca is a prolific poet, fiction writer, singer/songwriter, playwright and theatre maker. She is the author of numerous creative works, including Mara, Queen of the World (an acapella musical), The Wild, Bold Enlightenment of Velvet the Mistress, Cooking With Keisha (or Anatomy of Pie), and Jill, Jack & the Martian Lady; a play she created for a children’s educational workshop at the Minnesota Opera. Her fiction and performance pieces include Children of the First Hummingbird, Intelligence, and Zar-Baby, among others. She holds a Master of Fine Arts in Playwriting (Multiplatform Writing) from Columbia University and an M.A. in English Literature. She was also the recipient of a 2020 Commission from the Cedar Cultural Center for which she created Multicolored Musings: Jewels of Love, Loss, & Triumph (a three-part collection of songs exploring her African and African American heritage and passion for genre eclectic music) and received a 2020 honorable mention from the McKnight Foundation (Spoken Word). In addition, she is the recipient of the Liberace Award, the Howard Stein Fellowship, The Matthew’s Fellowship, an America-in-Play Fellowship and a Many Voices Fellowship from the Minneapolis Playwrights Center (2008-2009). She is currently working on a collection of poetry. Learn more at

Juma B. Essie
Blackness is Nature (Night One)

Lake Street in Minneapolis is punctuated by bodies of water: the Mississippi River to the east and Lake of the Isles and Bde Maka Ska to the west.  Between these undeniable natural parenthesis lies paragraphs of urbanity.  Often as a Black man who fishes, hikes, and camps I feel like a walking paradox.  The assumptions of who I am butt up against the reality of what I am doing.  Just being, thinking, quiet.  James Baldwin wrote in Nobody Knows My Name,"Though we do not wholly believe it yet, the interior life is the real life,, and the intangible dreams of people have a tangible effect on the world".  Blackness in the modern imagination does not (cannot) have an intangible inner life.  It is knowable, deciperable, and capable of judging at a glance.  It does not fit in nature; being, thinking, quiet, deep in the rhapsody of the self.  What is the experience of being Black in nature in the Twin Cities?  How is it shaped and informed by the parenthesis and paragraphs of Lake St? My story circle will be a five of one-on-one conversations with other Black people about their relationship with and in nature.


Juma B. Essie is a writer, performer and drummer exploring the primal power of vibration. Juma was a Many Voices Fellow at the Playwrights Center, a featured performer at the Late Nite Series at Pillsbury Theatre and for Queertopia 2018. He also created a one person show for the Naked Stages Program. Juma's favorite place is on the water fishing with his daughter. 

Johanna Keller Flores, Baki Z Porter, and Ellis Pérez
Tenemos la responsabilidad to hold one another  (Night One)

How can I be a playwright RIGHT now? How can I, a person who longs for control, lean into messiness? How can I find joy in the MESS of emotions I’m feeling since just this morning? Can I create from a genuine place of joy in the midst of this confusion, grief, guilt, rage? Como se puede hacer amigxs? Cómo podemos mostrar solidaridad verdadera con el arte hoy? Hoy digo, hoy. Quiero que todxs que me conozcan sepan que juntxs tenemos la responsabilidad to hold each other. To center Black and indigenous voices. Pa enfocar en las voces Negras e indígenas. To celebrate one another. To sweat and cry for each other. To SHUT the fuck up sometimes? To scream louder than ever sometimes? How can we create from a place of joy right now? What about hope? Y la esperanza, que? I am spilling my questions left and right, they’re overflowing from my eyes and my fingernails and my pores and I see them in you too friend. I am grateful for you, me siento tan agradecida. This story circle is for my queer Black and brown artist family.  


Johanna Keller Flores is a Peruana American playwright and theatre artist who’s out here trying to tell stories close to her heart for her queer brown familia. She's from St. Paul, Minnesota with a second home in Chimbote, Peru. She has had the sincerest pleasure of creating in her Twin Cities home the last two years; stage managing with Pangea World Theatre, writing and performing with Revolutionary Jetpacks,  performing with Lightning Rod at Pillsbury House Theatre, writing, directing, and performing with 20% Theatre, performing with Good Night at the Southern Theatre, writing and directing with Gadfly Theatre, and directing and conspiring with Alliance for Latinx Minnesota Artists. Te mando muchisimo amor, ya?

Baki Z Porter is a Black Native artist from and of the Twin Cities. They identify as an art activist and trixter.

Ellis Pérez (they/them) is a writer and doodler who is always looking for a large tree to take a nap underneath. Their art is honest, vulnerable, and sometimes silly. They have worked with Patrick's Cabaret, the Trans Voices Festival, One Voice Mixed Chorus, Pangea World Theater, and the Cedar Cultural Center. You can find them on instagram @boyishkid and/or @ellisdrawsstuff. 

And on the Other Side is...grief, transformation, resisting immobility, and release  (Night One)

/where were the blk women? where we have always been

/where are the blk women? centered in our humanity

/where will the blk women be? everywhere


This moment is an interrogation of the worn-out litany "It happened, it's finished – get over it." The breaking and the weeping, the marching and the destruction, the organizing and the advocacy, the anger and the fire tells us that that dismissive litany no longer stands. Oya, the orisa of death and rebirth, of transformation is speaking – she says, "You can't go around me on this one."  Miré's Story Circles will be pulled from community conversations she is presently engaged in already with artists, politicians, community activists and cultural workers who are working the transformations/outcomes of the once and future Lake Street. Those began on Saturday, June 27th and will continue until the end of July. They will be recorded and/or collected via notes by Miré with participants’ permission.

Miré is a Minneapolis-based multidisciplinary community builder and parent. In both her creative projects and food-justice work, she is interested in how we form engaged community and the unique ways we figure out how to take care of each other. She lives and works at the intersection of the BIPOC, queer, political and artistic communities seeking to build a more equitable and embodied world.

Aegor Ray
future/crowns  (Night Two)

Lake Street is the beating heart of Minneapolis, and is now  the epicenter of the global movement to abolish the police. Black liberation and the end of carceral white supremacist capitalism are the roots that will grow a just and joyous future world. As we vision and create change in our community, we participate in sketching the landscape of what Lake Street will be in 25, 50, 150 years from now. In a public & socially distanced installation and food/resource distribution, we will imagine and construct the future of Lake Street. What aspects of Lake Street right now will be recognizable and what will be mutated, resurrected, or no longer viable? What seeds are we pressing into the earth as a community now, and how do we vision the speculative future(s)? What kinds of creative practices, ways of living, social systems, families, gardens, emotions, and technologies could be possible? Date TBD


Aegor Ray is a queer trans writer, performance artist, and fishmonger. His work has been published in Peach Mag and BEST BUDS! Collective, and he was shortlisted for the 2018 Cosmonauts Avenue Poetry Prize. He was a 2018-2019 Loft Mentor Series in Poetry. Since 2017, Aegor has performed or featured pieces in queer arts events including Daddy, Mother Goose’s Bedtime Stories, Controlled Burn, Lightning Rod, and Queertopia. He is working on a short story collection of trans paranormal romance/speculative fiction.

Masanari Kawahara and Molly Van Avery
Make a Sanctuary of Me (Night One)

Visual artist Masnari Kawahara and writer Molly Van Avery held their story circle in the Powderhorn Park sanctuary. During the summer, hundreds of people experiencing homelessness lived in tents in the park directly following the uprisings that resulted from the death of George Floyd and the historic legacy of police brutality. People were moved into the park after being evicted from a hotel on Lake Street that had been taken over and named a sanctuary. The artists spoke with people living in the park prior to their forced removal. Kawahara drew portraits with sumi-ink while Van Avery wrote them a poem based on their conversations. The video piece they created for the performance, Sitting in not Knowing, is a meditation on the accumulation of unknowns. As we all sit in the present ruins of what has been, it can be overwhelming to not know what will be. May our eyes be wide open to see the impacts of what has been, and may we be resourced and visionary in imagining what is yet to come. 

Molly Van Avery is a poet, rabble rouser, and collaborator who dreams up art projects that create connections or change policy to make more equitable and joy-filled realities for more people. She is a single parent by choice, a life-long queer who descended from gay parents, and a white person working to dismantle white supremacy from the inside-out. She has created multiple performances and public art projects including collaborations, this house is not for sale (pulled off in partnership with Witt Siasoco and seven poetic luminaries) and Return the River (Co-imagined with Mike Hoyt and Dameun Strange) that both received recognition for best public art projects from Americans for the Arts. Van Avery founded Poetry for People and has co-created Poetry and Pie in the Park for seven summers in a row with Miré Regulus. Van Avery is thrilled to be re-uniting with Pangea on Lake Street Story Circles alongside Masa Kawahara a long-time collaborator. As a pair, the two most recently completed a Creative CityMaking fellowship to diversify participation on the Greenway. She is grateful to be making art alongside the incredible talents of these artists and receive inspiration from the rich complexities of Lake Street! 


Masanari Kawahara is a performer, educator, and Butoh practitioner who incorporates puppetry, mask and movement into his work. His most recent work is a solo performance piece Brown Paper, directed by Molly Van Avery and accompanied by Dreamland Faces, premiered at McKnight Theater Artist Fellows present Works in Progress. Other recent theater works include Speechless by The Moving Company as an actor; Immigrant Journey Project with Theater Mu as the lead artist; and The Oldest Boy by Jungle Theater as a puppeteer/actor/designer/builder. Also with In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre, he collaborated on Make Believe Neighborhood, The Story of Crow Boy and Queen. Other notable work includes the solo show Little Boy commissioned by Pangea World Theater’s Alternate Vision series.  Masanari is currently a resident teaching artist at Pillsbury House + Theatre and teaching artist for Upstream Arts working with toddlers to elders. Also he is a Creative City Making Artist with Minneapolis. He is a member of the Butoh group Nenkin Butoh Dan, which received a 2015 Sage Award for outstanding dance ensemble for Fu.Ku.Shi.Ma. He is a Playwrights’ Center McKnight Theater Artist Fellow (2010-2011, and 2018-2019). 

Sandra Agustin
Corner Conversations (Night Two)

Corner Conversations; The Wish Board will be a weekly (*Thursdays, 1-3 PM)  sit-n-chat on various corners along the Lake Street corridor. Conversations will use the prompt: What do you wish for lake street?  I am deeply saddened and inspired by my childhood stomping grounds from the E. Lake Street library to the former Sears Building, now Midtown Global Market. Memories of roasting cashews, peanuts and mixed nuts sitting alongside lawnmowers and lingerie swirl around the charred and jarring smells and sounds of the recent uprisings triggered by the murder of George Floyd.  The stories will be gathered via recordings, drawings from kids, short videos.  I will set up a small table, 3 chairs, and signs saying, "CORNER CONVERSATIONS: Make YOUR WISH for Lake Street" or something to that effect. I want to understand and share who lives along the corridor, how long they have lived there, what they see, what they want, and to build a sense of curiosity about and give hope to what will rise from the ash. For the purposes of this project, I will focus on the corners of:  Lake at 31st Ave, Lake at 21st Ave, Lake at Cedar Ave, Lake at Bloomington Ave. 

Sandra Agustin- Creative Navigator Facilitator/Artist. Sandy has an extensive history of arts, social and racial justice and leadership. She is a native Minnesotan, the youngest child of a Filipino immigrant and 5th generation Euro-Minnesotan. Since the age of 9, she has professionally performed and taught dance, later moving into arts administration as executive and artistic director at Intermedia Arts where she curated, fundraised, managed, consulted artists and built relationships. She is a former co-artistic core member of Mu Performing Arts where she acted, directed, choreographed over 20 shows and was an early member of the Asian American Renaissance. Sandy has facilitated a cohort of 22 arts and community development leaders in a creative leadership institute alongside Bill Cleveland of the Center for the Study of Art and Community. She has served on non-profit boards including the Minnesota Dance Alliance, Minnesota Citizens for the Arts/MCA and the Stuart Pimlser Dance and Theatre Company. As a teaching artist through the Children’s Theatre Company's Neighborhood Bridges program, in-school critical literacy and theatre program engaging young people to question power, write their own stories and develop community .  She recently co-founded Theatre 55 providing performance opportunities for folks over 55 years of age. Sandy is a part of the Southwest Minnesota Housing Partnership's artist roster, working in St. Peter, MN. A semi-regular performer and choreographer and contributor with Pangea World Theatre Sandy is committed to facilitating authentic movement, complimenting text and the actor's own body and making people feel good about themselves. 

Sequoia Hauck
Resiliency is Inherited  (Night One)

Mni Sota Makoce is the ancestral land of the Dakota peoples. This land looks very different now than it once did. While walking down the streets of Gakaabikaang (Minneapolis) we see glimpses of what this land could have looked like before colonialism and capitalism overtook. Native peoples have been forced into assimilation, recolation, and genocide on the land we stand on right now. Today we find ourselves in the middle of a pandemic as well as a social uprising, but where do we go next? Maybe we need to look to our past generations to find out? 

Sequoia Hauck (Anishinaabe/Hupa) is a multidisciplinary artist in the Twin Cities focused on creating theater, film, and performance art that decolonizes the process of art-making. Sequoia graduated from University of Minnesota-Twin Cities with a B.A. in American Indian Studies. They make art surrounding the narratives of continuation and resiliency for their communities. Sequoia has worked on and offstage with organizations such as The Southern Theater, Exposed Brick Theatre, Turtle Theater Collective, Aniccha Arts, Art Shanty Projects, Poetry and Pie, and Patrick's Cabaret. In 2019 they performed in Aotearoa/New Zealand at the Tātau Whetū Series - Artist Floor Talks. The piece titled “Te Mana o Te Wai” was a poetry and film installation surrounding Sequoia’s travels abroad directly connected to their interactions with the water around them. 

Mollie Lacy
Redefining Power (Night Two)

Redefining Power is a project that seeks to build a community-generated vision of power as we move towards anti-racist, feminist, queer-affirming futures together. This project poses the following questions: In the last month, when is a time you felt powerful, or witnessed power in your friends/neighborhood/community?  How do you define power? How do you want that definition to change in the future? This project contains an in-person event at Powderhorn Park, as well as a virtual event over Zoom (date tbd). Miranda Strong, a dancer, performer, and writer, is the Creative Collaborator alongside Mollie Lacy in this project. 


Mollie Lacy is a butch lesbian poet living and working in the Twin Cities. They are a Staff Member at Pangea World Theater. They are part of the Witch Sirens Poetry Slam Team, and their work has appeared in Paper Darts, Typishly, Drunk in a Midnight Choir, and on Button Poetry. It is a huge honor to be a part of this Lake Street Story Circles Cohort, and to be a part of the amazing community of artists in the Twin Cities fighting for justice. 

The Muatas
(Both Nights)

Ayanna & Cam Muata create original electronic music using homemade + programmed beats, layered with their own synths, guitars, and vocals- (spoken & sung.) Cam Muata and Ayanna Muata come together again to form an electronic music duo where they create and mix sampled and programmed beats, layering them with shadowy strings and ambient synths sounds and vocals that range between melodic and spoken. Add on guitar sounds that are as elusive as the members themselves, and what you have is a blend of trip-hoppy electronica, similar to what they helped pioneer in early 90s Minneapolis with the dance group Cold Front. Following the 30th anniversary of Cold Front’s only release, “Beyond The Beat”, The Muatas revisit and expand their sound as they include and explore their current realities. Follow us on Instagram: @themuatas or or at

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