If anyone can bring anthropologized history out of the dust of display cases and into the present, it’s Spiderwoman Theater, one of the best-known avant-garde women’s performance troupes in the United States. Company members Muriel and Gloria Miguel were impressive in Lifeline Theatre’s 1998 adaptation of Louise Erdrich’s novel Love Medicine, but the three-member troupe’s upcoming performance, marking the closing weekend of “The Art of Being Kuna” exhibit at the Field Museum, will give Chicago a glimpse of the whole company’s brilliance. Part Rappahannock and part Kuna (the indigenous people of Panama), Spiderwoman puts Native American culture in the context of everyday 20th-century life, using comedy and ancient stories to root out entrenched ideas about Native Americans, women, and any other stereotypes they care to challenge. Combining satire, ritual, drumming, traditional storytelling, and perfectly timed comic sparring, they celebrate the complexities of Kuna culture today in Daughters From the Stars: Nis Bundor, a piece based on the Kuna myth of five celestial sisters who govern the cycle of birth, life, and death. Knowing Spiderwoman, I’m sure they’ll find a raucous twist that will bring these august personages to life in unexpected ways, in the process animating whatever spirit is left in the dioramas and ancient artifacts of the museum. Field Museum of Natural History, Simpson Theatre, Roosevelt at Lake Shore Dr., 312-665-7400. July 24 and 25: Saturday-Sunday, 1 PM. $10 (includes museum admission). –Carol Burbank
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Paula Court.