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Sacred Sites Audio Theater: Launch Event

March 6, 2021 @ 5:00 pm - 6:00 pm


Sacred Sites Audio Theater: Launch Event
Saturday, March 6th, 2021 | 5 PM
Online | Zoom

Join 18th Street Arts Center artist in residence Susan Suntree for an online launch party of Suntree’s Sacred Sites Audio Theater Project on March 4, 2021. This is an audio production of Suntree’s best-selling, award winning book Sacred Sites: The Secret History of Southern California (Univ. of Nebraska Press). Audio clips from the Theater Project will be presented, including an audio-visual portrait of the Los Angeles River and the Ballona Wetlands read by Susan Suntree; and an audio clip from Book Two (Indigenous Myths and Songs) read by Native American actor, Kalani Queypo (Blackfeet, Native Hawaiian). The following discussion and Q&A will focus on the process of creating the Audio Theater project, including a panel with Tom Keegan (Director), Tom Zehnder (Composer),  and Gopika Sharma (Producer).

A history that is equal parts science and mythology, Sacred Sites offers a rare and poetic vision of a world composed of dynamic natural forces and mythic characters. The result is a singular and memorable account of the evolution of the Southern California landscape, reflecting the riches of both Native knowledge and Western scientific thought. It is the winner of the Southern California Independent Booksellers Association Award and winner of the PEN Oakland–Josephine Miles Literary Award. 

Sacred Sites honors the power and beauty of our indigenous heritage and homeland. By knowing our history, we better understand the present and our journey into the future.”

—Anthony Morales, tribal chair, Gabrielino Tongva Council of San Gabriel



Susan Suntree is a poet, performer, and essayist whose work investigates the dynamics of science, art, and spiritual philosophies as they engage contemporary life. She has presented her poetry and performances nationally and internationally and has published her poetry in many journals and anthologies. Her book length nonfiction epic Sacred Sites: The Secret History of Southern California (Univ. Nebraska Press), also released as audio theater, won the Southern California Independent Booksellers Association Award for Nonfiction, the PEN Oakland Josephine Miles Award for Poetic Narrative, and a Mellon Foundation Elemental Arts Award. Suntree adapted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a poem that is set as a choral work by award-winning composer Adrienne Albert and frequently performed (A Choral Quilt of Hope: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights). Suntree’s books and chapbooks include Eye of the Womb (Power Press) also published in Madrid (Vision Libros) as a bilingual edition, El Ojo de la Matriz;.Tulips (Exiled-in-America Press), a bilingual chapbook of translations of poetry by Spanish poet Ana Rossetti; Rita Moreno (Chelsea House); Wisdom of the East; Stories of Compassion, Inspiration and Love (Contemporary/McGraw Hill) for which the Dalai Lama wrote the foreword. She has published essays and book chapters about feminist and environmental theatre as well as reviews in Poetry Flash and Theatre Journal. Suntree’s life-long engagement with environmental and community issues includes creating performances employing giant puppets, poetry, and song to awaken the creative spirit to action on behalf of what is wild, communal, and generous.

Kalani Queypo (Blackfeet, Hawaiian) proudly serves on the Native Voices Advisory Council and is a founding member of the National American Indian Committee at SAG-AFTRA. He often portrays Native American or indigenous characters and has spoken up along with other peers on the poor portrayal of and lack of opportunity for natives in films except as stereotypes. He was born and raised in Hawaii, and received the RIIFF’s Directorial Discovery Award for his script “Ancestor Eyes.”He can be seen in the Oscar-nominated, Terrence Malick film, The New World, Steven Spielberg’s Emmy winning Into the West and Slow West (Sundance GRAND JURY PRIZE). Television credits include JamestownSaints & Strangers, Fear the Walking DeadMad MenNurse JackieBones, and Hawaii Five-0. Queypo is currently filming the new CBC series, The Trickster.

Tom Keegan is a BAFTA nominated director who has worked in games, animation, TV, film and theatre. Tom’s training and background is from New York theatre as an actor, director, and choreographer and he is one of the world’s most sought after directors for performance capture and voice over. In addition to directing full time internationally, Tom frequently teaches classes in acting, voice, and movement. As a dedicated fan of Sacred Sites: The Secret History of Southern California. since its original publication in 2010, Tom is ecstatic to be combining his love of theatre and his experience as a voice director on this audio theatre production. 

Tom Zehnder is thrilled to bring his years of song production and score composing experience to the audio theatre production of Sacred Sites: The Secret History of Southern California. In addition to scoring well over 80 video games, several films, and TV ads, Zehnder had the 
privilege of studying bird singing with Ernest Siva while earning his degree in Music Composition from UCLA. 

Gopika Sharma is an award-winning producer and editor. Her credits include “Out in India – A Family’s Journey,” “Sweet Life” and “Open Adoption – A Tapestry of Stories,” in addition to producing and editing industrials, games, promos and commercials. She has a long career working for Vivendi Universal Games, Warner Bros., and Sony Pictures Entertainment. Gopika is passionate about creating socially relevant content and is excited to be the producer on this audio theater production of Sacred Sites: The Secret History of Southern California.



March 6, 2021
5:00 pm - 6:00 pm
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