“Piece­work” to Play St. J. – Stitch­ing To­gether Franco-Ver­mont Sto­ries

Stanstead Journal - - NEWS -

South Burling­ton na­tive Abby Paige grew up in a gen­er­a­tion of Ver­mon­ters that saw the most vis­i­ble as­pects of its Franco-Amer­i­can her­itage fad­ing. She de­cided to do some­thing about it. She spent nearly a year dig­ging into books, lis­ten­ing to oral his­to­ries at the Ver­mont Folk­life Cen­ter, speak­ing with mem­bers of her ex­tended Fran­coVer­mont fam­ily, and meet­ing North Coun­try com­mu­nity lead­ers like Ce­line Pa­que­tte, who keep in touch with their French Cana­dian roots.

Paige’s re­search and writ­ing re­sulted in the cre­ation of her new and ac­claimed onewoman show, “Piece­work: When We Were French” which brings ten vivid Franco-Ver­mont char­ac­ters to life on stage. They in­clude a baker, teenager, sales­man, ge­neal­o­gist, mu­si­cian, and the ir­re­press­ible house­keeper at Burling­ton’s St. Joseph’s Catholic church, the first French-Cana­dian parish in the United States.

Paige’s “Piece­work” pre­miered at Burling­ton’s Cham­plain 400 fes­ti­val, sell­ing out each night and ex­ceed­ing au­di­ence ex­pec­ta­tions. The­ater­go­ers voiced ap­pre­ci­a­tion for Paige’s poi- gnant, hu­mor­ous, au­then­tic, and en­ter­tain­ing per­for­mance as all ten char­ac­ters, deeply rooted in North Coun­try cul­ture. Pop­u­lar de­mand was so great that King­dom County Pro­duc­tions teamed with Burling­ton City Arts to re­mount the theater pro­duc­tion to tour to five Ver­mont towns. The show will now play the St. Johns­bury School at 7:30pm, Satur­day, Jan­uary 29th—as part of the King­dom County Presents se­ries.

Now in her 30’s, Abby Paige’s ex­tended Fran­coVer­mont fam­ily re­mains closely-knit but she felt no real need, grow­ing up, to speak French or to draw her cul­tural roots into peer re­la­tions, ed­u­ca­tion, or her in­ter­est in theater and writ­ing. When she won a cov­eted Ful­bright Schol­ar­ship, while a stu­dent at Vas­sar, she chose to travel to South Amer­ica where she ex­plored the uses of com­edy and satir­i­cal theater in postAl­lende Chile. She then moved to San Fran­cisco where she was a char­ter mem­ber of the pop­u­lar sketch com­edy troupe, “Killing My Lob­ster.” But she moved back to Ver­mont af­ter a few years out west, go­ing to work for King­dom County Pro­duc­tions (KCP) as a writer and ac­tor on Jay Craven’s com­edy TV se­ries, “Windy Acres” and his Queen City Ra­dio Hour. She also part­nered with Bess O’Brien on KCP’s “Voices Project” and O’Brien’s sub­se­quent film, “Shout It Out.” Paige also im­pressed au­di­ences in Lost Nation Theater’s 2008 re­vival of David Bud­bill’s play, “Judevine.” Af­ter see­ing “Piece­work,” poet Bud­bill called the one-woman show, “Hu­mor­ous, grip­ping, touch­ing…it’s about a lot more than French Cana­dian Ver­mon­ters.”

Tick­ets for the Jan­uary 29th per­for­mance of “Piece­work” are avail­able at Cata­mount Arts, St. Johns­bury or by call­ing 802-748-2600. Box­of­fice hours are 1pm to 6pm, Mon­day through Satur­day. Tick­ets are also avail­able on­line 24/7 at www.Cata­moun­tArts.org.

“Piece­work: When We Were French” is pro­duced by King­dom County Pro­duc­tions work­ing in as­so­ci­a­tion with Cata­mount Arts. Sup­port has also been re­ceived by the Al­liance Fran­caise, the Que­bec Del­e­ga­tion, Bos­ton, the French Con­sulate Gen­eral of Bos­ton, The Ver­mont Arts Coun­cil, and the Na­tional En­dow­ment for the Arts. For more in­for­ma­tion con­tact Jay Craven at jcraven@marl­boro. edu.

photo cour­tesy

Abby Paige has cre­ated a one-woman show fea­tur­ing ten Franco-Ver­mont char­ac­ters.

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