Material Witness is “rowdy and playful, displaying an enormous sense of energy, strength and good will. Yet its subject is dead serious: the physical abuse of indigenous women in the United States and Canada.”
~ Anita Gates, The New York Times
Spiderwoman Theater is excited to be launching our latest theatre project Material Witness, (formerly Violence- The Next Generation). We have loved being in Indigenous communities and collaborating with the women we have met over the last 40 years. We want you all to come along with us on this journey.
What we have seen is that many Indigenous women are not safe and that the violence against them is a serious concern for the well being of all our rural and urban communities. Their voices and your voices need to be heard and everyone’s stories have to be out there.
We will be gathering women’s stories- of violence, of healing and of renewal from communities across Turtle Island and beyond. We are very pleased to be working on this project in collaboration with Aanmitaagzi, an arts collective from Nipissing First Nation in Northern Ontario.
The Story of Spiderwoman Theater’s First Backdrop
When Muriel Miguel first imagined Women in Violence, Spiderwoman Theater’s first show in 1976, she wanted a backdrop that had resonance for the production. The first year that Muriel went to the Sundance, she was given gifts: fabric and quilts. Gloria also went on a trip to Kuna Yala and she came back with a very large mola. Muriel added another mola from the family and all these fabrics and quilts were sewn together to become our backdrop. We didn’t have enough material so we added newspaper to the bottom of the backdrop from every town that we toured.
Over the years, the newspaper has been replaced with new gifts. We have added a baby blanket from three young Ojibway sisters from Canada. Members of the group have added pieces of fabric that represent what they want to say, their particular stories and experiences. This quilt has been present on stage for every show for almost 40 years. In our next show, this backdrop and our new quilt will be onstage together to represent both our past and our future. This is our legacy to be passed onto the next generations- an archive of our stories and the stories of all the women who we have known over the years and those who we have yet to meet.