Hiawatha Project creates original performances exploring specific social questions through myth, free association, and movement.  The company connects true stories and divergent communities through impactful and revelatory theatrical works.

Artistic Statement

Hiawatha Project explores the experiences of living in Pittsburgh and connects these experiences to regional, national, and global social questions.  In this way, we strive to illuminate human connections by discovering the universal and infinite in the ordinary and specific.

Hiawatha Project is an ensemble-based, original performance company that:

  • is for and/or about the needs of a specific community and/or audience
  • interacts directly in real-time with an audience
  • is inspired by and utilizing specific artists and specific spaces
  • is invigorated with real-time physical feats
  • suspends belief beyond the narrative
  • confronts limited resources with limitless imagination


Writer, director and performer, Anya Martin and scenic designer and artisan Michelle Carello founded Hiawatha Project in 2011 out of a desire to create relevant and original theatrical work through an innovative development process connecting professional artists with community members.  Hiawatha Project was founded with a heart for social justice and a professional aesthetic for non-traditional and experimental theatrical work.

Martin and Carello founded Hiawatha Project while creating the company’s first original work, Camino, based off of the experiences of Milton and Stephany Mejia, a young migrant couple living in Pittsburgh. An award-winning Pittsburgh City Paper article entitled, “El Camino” details the development of this first show with the development of the company.

“It’d be phenomenal if these two white girls — a Mennonite from central PA, and a nomadic third-generation-Italian introvert — could somehow provide that bridge,” says Carello. “We can offer this connection; to get people in the room, and invest them in a longer process.” – El Camino, Pittsburgh City Paper. Read the full article here.

Camino was praised as “…courageous…” by the Pittsburgh City Paper and “…strong, clear, and impassioned,” by the Pittsburgh Post Gazette. For more review quotes of Camino click here.

Michelle left the company in 2014.  Since that time Anya has carried on the vision and work of Hiawatha Project, collaborating with many artists of diverse backgrounds and specialties in order to realize Hiawatha’s innovative creation process and artistic mission.

The company’s next major work JH:Mechanics of a Legend explores the legend of John Henry through the language of mechanics, century old ballads and primary historical records, revealing a poetic and dangerous truth inside the machinations of history, rooted in the economics of slavery.

JH: Mechanics of Legend premiered as a work in progress as a part of the New Hazlett Theater’s competitive CSA Performance Series on April 2, 2015.  A full production is scheduled for Feb of 2017, more details to follow.

Hiawatha Project performs at various locations throughout Pittsburgh, PA.  Contact us online.