Nejma Nefertiti Opens "Mermaid's Howl" at La MaMa

Nejma Nefertiti invoking the spirits

Recently our own Nejma Nefertiti collaborated with theatre artist Marina Celander in a stage production presented by La Mama Experimental Theatre Club for its Series of One: A Solo Performance Festival, titled Mermaid's Howl. The title is an homage to the legendary South Korean female sea divers, who for hundreds of years have made their living harvesting seafood by hand from the ocean floor. Known as haenyeo, or sea women, they use no breathing equipment, although a typical dive might last around two minutes and take them as deep as ten meters underwater.  At one point, a wolf also speaks through Marina - ergo the "Howl." Celander's play utilizes lights, sound effects, costumes, dream-work, and spiritual channeling to tell the story of her immigrant Korean/Japanese/Swedish mother as she struggles to establish her identity.



Marina Celander - playwright, director, performer in Mermaid's Howl


Nejma Nefertiti

Nejma Nefertiti opened the evening by invoking the spirits of the Four Directions, and performing a rap in praise of all aspects of Mother Earth. Her lyrics were flawlessly delivered, offering a perfect introduction to this stage work built around quotes from both mother and daughter, primarily in English, but also with a smattering of phrases in Korean, Japanese, and Swedish. It is Marina's mother's attempt to return to Korea from Sweden, and the government's refusal to accept her, that causes her eventual emotional breakdown.

Kudos to Infinite Dåkot-ta, credited in the program with "music and soundscape," for providing the underlying drums that accompanied Nejma's invocation.

Marina Celander

Mermaid's Howl is a deeply moving play. We look forward to seeing more of Marina Celander's work, as well as hearing more performances by Nejma Nefertiti.

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