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Laura Heywood Interviews

Mar 27, 2019

Ty Defoe is the kind of performer I (Laura Heywood) gravitate towards because he breaks so many boundaries and has dedicated his life to amplifying voices and stories of communities who are too often disregarded, overlooked, and grossly underrepresented — specifically, but not limited to, trans* and indigenous voices.

I first saw Ty onstage in Broadway’s “Straight White Men” — notable because neither he nor the character onstage identifies as straight, white or male. Which was sort of the point. 

In addition to his Broadway work, Ty is the co-creator of Ajijaak on Turtle Island, a beautiful theatrical experience with puppetry and music that recently concluded its run at the New Victory Theatre on 42nd street. He has also worked with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, the Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis, The Museum of the American Indian in Washington DC, and many more.

He is a hoop dancer, a storyteller and shape shifter.

In a 2015 article on HowlRound, Ty describes himself this way:

“I am from Ojibwe Nation and Oneida Nation (People of the Standing Stone). I am two-spirit. I live in New York City. I am a writer. These ways of identifying are only parts of me, but as I move through the world, I find that I can’t take off my identities like a jacket and simply hang them in the closet. They are interwoven, and in creating any theatre that has verisimilitude or humanity, I must lean into the intersection of identities.”

I am so drawn to this idea, and so delighted to bring in this unique human being who lives so proudly in the center of a beautiful venn diagram of identity.