“Quilters” is a musical about the lives of American pioneer women based on the book “The Quilters: Women and Domestic Art” by Patricia Cooper and Norma Bradley Allen. Last Sunday afternoon, several LNT members were both delighted and moved by this performance at Theatre Works of Southern Indiana.
The first thing we noticed upon entering the theater was that the stage was surrounded with a border of crazy quilts. We couldn’t decide whether it was an older quilt which had been cut up for this purpose, or if it was produced for the play. Regardless, it set the stage (notice the pun) for the play.
Plot Summary: In the American West, a pioneer woman, Sarah, and six women, who are called her daughters, face frontier life. The musical is presented as a series of short tales and quilted representations matched with musical numbers, each presenting an aspect of frontier life or womanhood. The quilted patches or blocks show girlhood, marriage, childbirth, spinsterhood, twisters, fire, illness, and death. They are ultimately put together to form one huge dramatic quilt revealed at the end of the play.
Many of the smaller quilts or blocks presented in the play, and also compiled in the large quilt, were traditional patterns that we easily recognized, such as the Wedding Ring, Sunbonnet Sue, Tree of Life, and Lone Star.
“Quilters” was an entertaining reminder of the joys, the difficulties, and the tragedies encountered by our forefathers (and foremothers) in the settlement of our country and how these events were recorded by their quilting.