Theatre Review: Nelwat Ishkamewe's The Cosmic Twins a Play for Young Audiences and Families

By Reign Beaux Cuahuitl

Celebrating National Native American Heritage Month and Transgender Awareness Month, Nelwat Ishkamewe presents a play for young audiences and families called The Cosmic Twins- a beautiful Maya K’iche’ creation story and brought to life by the amazing cast. The Cosmic Twins invites audiences of all ages, to take a courageous stellar journey with Junajpu and X’balanke through the place of fears. While, the narrative is presented with young people in mind, what I enjoyed most was how the story marries Native American cultures and Queer identity. The Cosmic Twins, celebrates both gender and Indigenous identity in a simple approachable narrative. What I truly appreciated most about the show was how the story was not only rich in its indigenous storytelling and ancestral knowledge, but also how it decolonizes gender for young minds.

The story centers the corn people, the proud indigenous people native to Central America. Junajpu and X’balanke, braves twins, of the corn people, chosen to face their ancestral challenges and overcome their fears. We get to see the twins battle in Xibalba, and take back their ancestral power. Finally, becoming the sun and the moon: I really enjoyed how the sun and moon are representative of masculine and feminine energies, and how the story tackles it face on through the twins embodying both masculine and feminine through their transformation. It really highlights Trans/Two-Spirit Identity in way that young audiences can both feel safe but also ask questions. The Cosmic Twins is both transformative and accessible to all audiences, making the show truly radical.

The Cosmic Twins Promo 3.jpg

The Cosmic Twins is both transformative and accessible to all audiences, making the show truly radical.

Ricky Rosé’s performance as Jun-Kame, the fur coat wearing Lord of Xibalba, is both hilarious and gives me pageant realness. The songs, written by playwright and director Xemiyulu Manibusan Tapepechul, are truly magical highlighting both ancestral knowledge and Indigenous resistance. Ahanu On brought to the play such a vibrancy and humor, especially in both song and dance. Just like the Sun and Moon exist in great balance, the artists in The Cosmic Twins worked together in harmony to share with the community this powerful, much needed tale.

Nelwat Ishkamewe presents a beautiful story centering queer trans bodies that truly amplifies the spirit of queer Indigenous identity, as well as the true power of and need for Two-Spirit Theatre. The play runs until Sunday November 11th, at the Emergence Community Arts Collective, a community space built by DC community member Sylvia Robinson. The perfect space for Nelwat Ishkamewe’s The Cosmic Twins, for communities by the community.

I was very excited to read that The Cosmic Twins will be touring DC Metro Area schools this coming Winter and Fall! I really enjoyed the show, and each time I saw it I took something new away. Please Support Queer Trans Indigenous communities and artists!

Reign Beaux Cuahuitl is a Two-Spirit living in ancestral Piscataway land, supporting Black and Indigenous Trans People of Color participating in the arts, activism, and healing.

Guest Blogger