Until now my solo show, Piecework: When We Were French, has been performed exclusively in the U.S., which is fitting: it is primarily a memory play, exploring how Franco-American culture has been both preserved and lost over the past century. I am a native New Englander, and the reception my show has received there has been stellar. But I’m thrilled that my Quebec premiere is coming. On December 10, I’ll be performing for a group of students at the high school in St-Anselme, Quebec, a village of about 3,000 people. I very much doubt that many Montreal artists feel compelled to perform there, but for me this performance represents a high-point and a homecoming.
Ever since my great-grandparents left their Quebec village to immigrate to the U.S., the region they came from has held a mythical power in my family’s imagination. Despite the passage of time and the loss of a common language, we’re fortunate to have maintained relationships with our relatives there. Their village, St-Lazare-de-Bellechasse, is just a few kilometers down the road from St-Anselme, and the students for whom I will perform are studying English with my cousin — my third cousin, to be exact. I can’t help but feel that I’ll also be performing for some beloved ghosts.
Preparing for the St-Anselme performance, I’ve been thinking about the song Dégénérations, by Mes Aïeux, and about what is sacrificed and gained over the course of generations. Our ancestors struggled to make our lives better than theirs, and despite their success — or perhaps because of it — we feel a sense of loss as much as one of gain. I am so curious about what the Franco-American story will mean to an Quebec audience and so excited to, in a sense, bring the show back to where it began. To read more about it, click here.