7 T H C O U S I N S
In the summer of 2015, Erin Brubacher and Christine Brubaker walked 700 kilometres, from Pennsylvania to Ontario, tracing the migration route of their Mennonite ancestors. Someone asked if they were walking to learn how to work together. This was certainly part of it.
Along the way they were hosted by a series of people with whom they had next to nothing in common. They were welcomed into strangers’ homes and treated as family. On their journey through the American Bible Belt they encountered folks with religious and political beliefs very different from their own and learned to question what conversations to enter and how far to take them. They accomplished this and so much more while navigating their own relationship and the challenges of being with another person, on foot, for 32 days.
“7th Cousins is a sharp, very personal and insightful work of documentary theatre that embodies a kind of honest female friendship that is so important to experience in our current moment, as well as a journey into the U.S. that gives trenchant insights far beyond what I was expecting.”
—Jacob Wren, PME-ART
Available for interactive readings, performance talks, and other discursive events in 2024.
THE PERFORMANCE PROJECT
7th Cousins plays for audiences in community halls, places of worship, bars, clubs and other public meeting places. The full theatrical production was first presented in 2018 by Nightwood Theatre in Toronto, and Green Light Arts in Waterloo Ontario.
Andrea Nann, director/choreographer
Christopher Stanton, director/dramaturge
Kaitlin Hickey, production designer
Erum Khan, production assistant
THE BOOK PROJECT
7th Cousins: An Automythography is a hybrid book published by Book *hug. It documents the walk itself, and the performance generated afterwards. Included throughout are photo essays from the journey and commentaries from collaborators Christopher Stanton, Andrea Nann, Kaitlin Hickey, and Erum Khan. Erin and Christine are available to give interactive readings, and the book itself is available online or at your local book sellers.
"There Is Some Witting and Unwitting Mythologizing Involved" Erin Brubacher and Christine Brubaker Get Experimental in Their New Travel Memoir —Open Book
Most Anticipated: 2019 Fall Nonfiction Preview —49th Shelf
“No simple re-telling, the book aims to conjure new meanings—the magic—from the space of the live performance shows that followed the walk. It’s a fascinating attempt at embedding improvisation and mixed media storytelling techniques in book format. In the process, it challenges the traditional idea of what published nonfiction can look like.” —Geoff Martin, The Common
7th Cousins sets up theatrical road show —The Toronto Star
"Whether you are deeply rooted in your community or have more nomadic leanings, you will find something to empathize with here." — Mooney On Theatre
Erin Brubacher and Christine Brubaker, photo by Sam Choisy
7th Cousins: THE UNPACKING part II preesnted by Summerworks Performance Festival. August, 2017. Two summers after our walk, we were invited back to Pennsylvania to perform alongside other Brubach/kers of note: Republican politicians, left wing non-profit leaders and expert quilters to name a few…. The gathering will drew over 500 Brubakers/ Brubachers and Mennonites from all over the continent. Takes family reunion to the next level… There was a lot to unpack. During the day-long car ride home, over a distance that took us 32 days on foot, we created a new ONE-TIME performance for a summerworks audience.
7th Cousins: THE UNPACKING part I preesnted by Summerworks Performance Festival. August, 2015. Immediately following our walk, we began The Unpacking. We offered The Unpacking as a part of the Live Art Series for the Summerworks Performance Festival. Performances included: a walk; an attempt to remember the trip without the help of any photographs or other prompts; unpacking photographs; mapping out the route; stitching the route together; stories through picture prompts; and a 'Midnight Supper' POTLUCK.
An Invitation from the walk. July, 2015:
People had been asking about joining us, or saying they wished that they could walk… So, on Sunday July 19th and Sunday July 26th, we invited people to walk ‘with us’. These were the instructions:
1. Find a person to walk with. You are invited to walk in pairs.
2. Pick a starting-point and an end-point for a six-hour journey of your choosing. (If six hours is too much for you, you can chart a shorter journey that is right for you. The length and frequency of your stops along the way are up to you.) You can also just commit to walking, and decide the direction as you are join.
3. Email us to let us know that you are joining. We will let you know about ways to be in touch with us and others who are walking, if you like. We can also suggest some things for you, to try while you are walking— things that we are trying.
4. Start walking at 9am, Eastern Standard Time, on your chosen day (July 19th or 26th). We will begin at 9am too.
It will be nice to know that you are walking, while we are walking.
7th Cousins would like to acknowledge the support of The Ontario Arts Council and The Canada Council for the Arts. Also great thanks to the following Theatre Companies who supported the earliest stages of this work through the OAC Theatre Creators Reserve program: Summerworks, Pat The Dog, The Blyth Festival, Theatre Gargantua, Festival Players and Common Boots. In particular, The Theatre Centre, Nightwood Theatre and Tarragon Theatre have supported us at various stops along the journey. We'd like to express appreciation for Simon Rabyniuk who was a collaborator on early workshop versions of this performance.