Who Says This is A One-Person Show? (Part 1)

Today is the last day of the first week of my online fundraising campaign to support the DVD production of my solo show, Piecework: When We Were French.

In the past seven days, we’ve raised more than $2,600! I say “we” even though I’m sitting alone at this desk, have no staff — or boss for that matter, and some days I’d say I am self-employed in the loneliest sense of the word. But I mean “we” because one of the guiding principles behind this fundraising campaign, and behind Piecework, is that a one-person show is, by necessity, a collaborative, community effort. There may be one person on stage, but it takes a proverbial village to get that person there, and I feel this is especially true of this show. From the Franco-Americans who volunteered to be interviewed, to the technical crews who have helped me at each venue where I’ve performed, to the generous audiences who have made each presentation a unique experience, this “solo show” has been a work of collaboration on a grand scale, and this is especially true now, as we work together to make the DVD recording possible.

Thinking about this fact, I thought I would use this space to talk about a few of the individuals and organizations who have contributed in the past three years to bringing Piecework: When We Were French into existence and then bringing it to audiences around New England. Today, I’d like to shine the spotlight on the two organizations who originally commissioned the show for the 2009 Champlain Quadricentennial Celebration in Burlington, Vermont.

Burlington City Arts hosts exhibits, offers education programs, and supports citywide arts events in Burlington, Vermont, and the surrounding area. Founded on the awesome idea that the arts show be accessible to all, it has been fulfilling that mission for most of my lifetime. I was a benefactor of their activities growing up in the Burlington area, and the performances I saw and classes I took during those years had a formative effect on me. Of course, BCA was also instrumental in Burlington’s Champlain celebrations of 2009, which featured regional and international Native American, Franco-American, Quebecois and French performers, music and dance. I was honored to be among them, with my show created specially for the occasion.

Based on the other side of the state, Kingdom County Productions is a non-profit film production company and arts presenter in the Northeast Kingdom, and they partnered with BCA to make the 2009 Champlain events happen. I have a long history with KCP, having worked with filmmaker Bess O’Brien on the 2005 teen theater production, The Voices Project, and having appeared in multiple TV and radio productions directed by Jay Craven. As KCP’s founders, Bess and Jay have pioneered independent filmmaking in Vermont, producing feature films and documentaries that reflect local culture and ask challenging questions about the region’s future.

Both of these organizations symbolize what makes me proud to be a Vermonter: they find innovative and lasting ways to support local culture and to champion the notion that the arts can — and must! — thrive anywhere where creative people gather.

Canadian poet Catriona Strang has said, “I actually think that the idea of an individual writer is bull****. All writers are collaborating. They are all talking to other people. They might go home and write by themselves, but they didn’t create their text alone. All writers are part of a bigger fabric.” Burlington City Arts and Kingdom County Productions are just two of the organizations who have contributed to the fabric of Piecework: When We Were French. You can contribute, too! We’re 38% of the way toward our goal. Help to close out our first week of fundraising on a strong note! Donate now!


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