SkirtsAfire Festival – “Ayita” by Teneil Whiskeyjack

The Cause

SkirtsAfire Festival is Edmonton’s only theatre and multidisciplinary arts festival solely featuring the work of women and non-binary artists. We present powerful and insightful stories to a diverse audience that is hungry to be moved by passionate performances and exhibitions. Programming reflects the true diversity of the thriving arts community in Alberta and Canada, and is adaptive in its approach to remain responsive to the needs of artists and audiences. SkirtsAfire is a diverse and inclusive theatre and multidisciplinary arts festival that empowers its artists. We value the voices of all women, and create and showcase art for everyone to experience and enjoy. From March 3-13, 2022, SkirtsAfire Festival will showcase our Mainstage production of "Ayita" by Teneil Whiskeyjack.

"Ayita" is a calling back to one’s spirit and voice. It is a modern-day creation story meets Indigenous realities that are told through text and movement. This show is a fusion of theatre and Indigenous contemporary dance following three generations of Cree women; Niska, Ayita, and young Ayita - each in a different cycle of their womanhood, yet seamlessly interconnected to one another. Alongside Ayita, we will be presenting two workshops called “A Return to Womanhood, the Transition into the Prophesied Time for Women as Leaders.” These workshops will be run by Lana Whiskeyjack, and serve as an exploration of strength-based stories of resilience and traditional culture that hold women as sacred and powerful.

We are seeking funding for 150 Indigenous youth and peers to attend "Ayita," and funding for a leader to run these workshops. We are striving to make "Ayita" as accessible as possible to all communities, especially those whose stories and cultures are reflected in the production.

Who Will it Benefit?

Our focus is to give a platform for this story that will benefit not only Indigenous, women, and non-binary communities, but every audience member who comes to see this important representation of these marginalized and underrepresented communities.

We are working towards an artistic team for "Ayita" that is 100% women and/or non-binary artists and 100% Indigenous and/or BIPOC artists. We are also inviting Indigenous youth and peers to attend this production, as well as to attend the workshops offered, in efforts to benefit these communities by sharing, reflecting, and celebrating the messages in the story.