7th Cousins

From July 7th - August 6th 2015, we walked 700km, from Pennsylvania to Ontario. A stranger asked if we were walking to learn how to work and be together. This was certainly part of it. 

7th Cousins is an automythography by Erin Brubacher and Christine Brubaker, made with collaborators Christopher Stanton, Andrea Nann and Kaitlin Hickey, with production assistance from Erum Khan

We – two politically left, secular, Canadian women – walked through the American Bible Belt during the summer before the 2016 U.S. presidential election, and were hosted by a series of people with whom we had next to nothing in common. Yet, while we were with these people, they welcomed us into their homes and treated us with the care of family. We constantly questioned what conversations to enter and how far to go. How should a guest challenge a generous host? We felt our hosts were attempting to assess us with a lexicon that didn’t match our own. Sometimes we just listened to answer their need to be heard. We are still unpacking it, and will continue to do so with each performance. Juxtaposed with this was the navigation of our own relationship. Facing the challenges of being with another person for 32 days, all day and night.

UPCOMING Fall 2019: 
7th Cousins: An Automythography, a new bookwork published by Book *hug
Available November 19th 
Calgary Book Launch November 26th, Shelf Life 
Toronto Book Launch December 12th, 6:30pm Type Books, in the Junction

When we got home, we tried to tell one version of our walk, in 32 images for our 32 day journey

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The Record part 1
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  • Presented by Green Light Arts in Waterloo Ontario. June, 2018

  • In association with Nightwood Theatre in Toronto at: The Ismaili Centre; The Emmet Ray, Whisky Bar; St. Matthew's United Church; and The Royal Canadian Legion Branch 344. September, 2017- June, 2018

  • 7th Cousins: UNPACKING at 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. 

photo by Dahlia Katz

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.

700 photos from The Unpacking

Mapping from The Unpacking

  • 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.