Ma Cousine des États, my new, original, and bilingual solo show, currently in development, is a histricomic ode to my distant relatives on both sides of the border. Based on my own experiences as a settler, immigrant, and white lady, the show explores the links between ancestors and descendants, self and community, Jack Kerouac and Celine Dion.
I am a descendant of both French and English settlers to Turtle Island. I was born and raised in northern Vermont, near the U.S./Canada border, and my ancestors have inhabited the surrounding region, between what they knew as New France and the Massachusetts Bay Colony, since the seventeenth century. In 2008, after marrying a Canadian, I immigrated north to Quebec, almost one-hundred years after my great-grandparents migrated in the opposite direction. The move strengthened and refined my identity as a Franco-American, an identity that both connects me to and excludes me from francophone and anglophone communities in Canada.
From my position as a dual citizen, I question borders of various kinds — between French and English, the past and the present, the living and the dead, here and there, us and them — and explore how we use stories to build a sense of identity and history. Occupying the ungentrified theatrical territory between stand-up, drag, Ted talks, and kitchen parties, Ma Cousine des États enacts a search for ancestors, literary and otherwise; reflects on how distant relations tell vastly different stories about shared ancestors; and explores what it means to belong in a nation, a family, and your own skin.
During the writing process I have been posting images and other research materials in an on-line archive. You can view that material here. I also invite you to check back here for updates as I continue to move the show from the page to the stage. Wish me luck!