Spiderwoman Theater & The Beautiful Canoe Collective presents JOURNEY THE BEAUTIFUL CANOE

July 25 at 7 PM
at HB Playwrights Theater (124 Bank Street)

The show runs for about 45 mins, no intermission. Followed by a brief post-show Q&A talk back.

Journey the Beautiful Canoe is a play about labour and birth. In Indigenous oral traditions, a story changes depending on who is telling that story, on the listener and the context it is told. This means, the play Journey the Beautiful Canoe is always in the process of becoming something new depending on who is in the canoe and where it has travelled. Over the years, we have docked our canoe in many different territories and spent time learning with many different collaborators and each time our stories change. In this part of our journey, we have spent 11 days collaborating with Spiderwoman Theatre and Muriel Miguel (Kuna/Rappahannock) retelling our stories from an entirely different place. We are honoured to welcome a new storyteller into the canoe, Henu Josephine Tarrant (Hopi/Ho-chunk/Kuna/Rappahannock) with her own birth story  In the first two days in New York, we listened to the teachings of Mohawk midwife and Elder Katsi Cook who was with us at the beginning of our journey as well and who was the inspiration for the title of the piece and the collective name the Beautiful Canoe. Cook speaks about how, in the Mohawk language, there is a way of talking  about the vulva as a ‘nice canoe.’ We see this metaphorical ‘canoe’ as carrying seeds of creation (physical, emotional, spiritual, and mental) and as a vessel that allows for the journey of a new life (birth).

THE BEAUTIFUL CANOE COLLECTIVE is a group of Indigenous women who are performers, artists, mothers, aunties, midwives and maternal/child health workers joined together with the purpose of creating a mixed media theatre play around our personal experiences of birth. It is the purpose of the Collective to support each member’s artistic growth and practice through the remembrance and reclamation of our birthing experiences. In the working through of our stories through Indigenous methods of storytelling and dramaturgy, it is our hope to (re)call and remember traditional birthing practices, ceremony, and ritual and to transmit this knowledge as a valuable component to a healthy Indigenous futurity–reclaiming our bodies as whole, good, beautiful, healthy, sovereign.

Spiderwoman Theater is the oldest, continually running, Native feminist theater company in the Americas and is situated in the NYC Indigenous arts and performing arts communities. Activism, self determination and storytelling are at the core of Spiderwoman’s programming and are rooted in an urban Indigenous sensibility. Live theater performance and production are the vehicles by which core principles and values engage our communities and audiences.

Over forty-five years, their body of work has addressed critical cultural, social and political issues in the Indigenous and women’s communities. They use traditional and contemporary storytelling to bridge ancestral cultural practice and Western theater methodology. They produce thought-provoking, entertaining, humorous, irreverent theater that speaks what has not been spoken. Their work is informed by traditional artistic expression, teachings and values and with these as signposts, they foster a foundational cultural exchange between artists and their communities.

Their creative practice is storyweaving, where personal and traditional stories of the ensemble are intertwined with movement, text, sound, music and visual images. This weaving is a framework for their productions, training and outreach activities.

HB Studio’s programs are supported in part by public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council, and many generous supporters.


  • Time:
    July 25, 2023
    7:00 pm – 8:00 pm ET