Performing Archives of Passing, Moving Bodies across Language

  • Heather Hermant


This experimental travelogue through process narrates research-creation work about an eighteenth century "multicrosser," Esther Brandeau / Jacques La Fargue, purportedly Jewish female passing as Christian male and the first (known) Jewish arrival to what is now called Canada. Outed on both counts and deported, this historical figure moved across many axes of differentiation simultaneously. This movement, these multiple simultaneous passings, and the fractured evidence that erupts this life into knowability, compel particular ways of working in order to translate from French colonial interrogation record into the colonial present. This paper describes the complexity of translating the first black box theatre work to contend with this story, ribcage: this wide passage by Heather Hermant, to French as thorax : une cage en éclats (trans. Nadine Desrochers). The author situates this practice-as-research within debates about body as archive and what constitutes knowledge; proposes performance-as-research as a realm in which a "new intersectionality" might best be elaborated; and body as translator/ion across languages and genres, temporalities and spatialities.