Amy Woodruff, a McNeese State theater graduate and intermedia artist, will present her performance piece, ''Moon Cove,'' and reenact a traditional Cajun cemetery vigil Thursday night at Istre Cemetery in Acadia Parish. (Special to the American Press)
Last Modified: Tuesday, October 30, 2012 10:11 PM
Amy Woodruff, McNeese State University theater graduate and “intermedia” artist, will present her performance piece, “Moon Cove,” and re-enact a traditional Cajun cemetery vigil at Istre Cemetery in Acadia Parish south of the Mermentau community overnight on Nov. 1.
The installation is planned for 2 p.m. Thursday through 10 a.m. Friday, Nov. 2.
Woodruff, a 10th-generation Louisianian, wrote “Moon Cove” and first produced it in 2008. In the interim it has gone through revisions, she said.
“It is the story of a girl who hears from an aunt family stories that she had never heard,” Woodruff said. “In a supernatural twist, she realizes she has the power to contact her Louisiana French ancestors’ ghosts.”
She spoke in a telephone interview from her home base in New Orleans. “Moon Cove” is subtitled “A Louisiana Tale of Horror from the Cajun Prairie.”
“I have always been fond of ghost stories,” she said.
The presentation involves solo theater performance, multimedia projection, and handmade objects and garments. It weaves together live-narrative storytelling; music (she does a little fiddle playing); and the projection of photographs and videos to tell an epic story of the heartbreak, tragedy and resilience of a south Louisiana family, she said.
Woodruff, who was born in Lake Charles, was separated from her father for many years because of her parents’ divorce, but later connected with him.
“We got really close and enjoyed a really fine relationship for a number of years,” she said. He was a Thibodeaux from Acadia Parish and is buried in Istre Cemetery, along with many of his ancestors.
“Istre Cemetery is a country family cemetery,” Woodruff said. “It may be the only remaining one with wooden Cajun houses constructed over some of the graves, where they used to be all over south Louisiana.”
This distinguishing feature and burials dating to 150 years ago helped the site attain a listing on the National Register of Historic Places.
Woodruff graduated with a bachelor’s in theater arts from McNeese and received a master’s in interdisciplinary art from Goddard College in Vermont. She has performed “Moon Cove” in New Orleans and at Goddard College, where she said it was well-received.
She will present a fully staged version Nov. 30, Dec. 1 and Dec. 3-4 at the Shadowbox Theatre of New Orleans. It will be presented in documentary style.
The production in Istre Cemetery will also be a “Tousaint-a-Thon” fundraiser, she said. Thirty percent of the proceeds — there is no charge, but a collection will be taken — will go to the Istre Cemetery preservation organization, and the remainder will be used for future productions of “Moon Cove.”
Directions: Drive U.S. 90 east of Mermentau and turn right on La. 92 (Mermentau Cove Road, which becomes West Whitney Road) to Everglade Road, which becomes Swift Road. The cemetery is several miles south on the left side of Swift Road.
Posted By: Amy Woodruff On: 11/14/2012
Title: Ma réponse
1. I am a serious artist who has received years of training. I am not an entertainer and nothing I do is "entertainment." The subjects of my work are always educational or cultural.
2. My birth name was Thibodeaux, and my family is in Acadia Parish. For this event, I spent 20 hours at the graveside of my father, my grandparents, and my great-grandparents (LeBlancs) in a Toussaint vigil, lighting candles and saying prayers, which is a Catholic religious tradition. It was personal, and I had every right to do it, including permission from the board of directors of the cemetery, and the blessing of the residents of the surrounding farming community who came out in droves to voice their loving support.
My father passed away from a terminal illness in January, following several days that I spent by his side in Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital. My grandmother and her parents (the LeBlancs) were killed in a car wreck together in 1958. My grandfather died in a house fire in 1990 in Morse when I was 16. If you think I am making light of these facts of my life and my relatives' lives, and that I am doing anything other than honoring their memory, then you are sorely mistaken.
I will respect MY ancestors in my OWN way, not in some way that you tell me to. Regarder ta propre vie, merci.
Posted By: Clarence J. Thibodeaux On: 11/13/2012
I hope none of this activity will disgrace my ancesters. Please allow the Thibodeaux family as well as others rest in peace. I learned to speak English when I eight years old. I am from Acadia parish and my last name is Thibodeaux. I am the last of a generation who knows Cajun language. I ask that you do not make fun of or change anything at the cemetery. Our heritage is not for the world's entertainment, Amy Wodruff. I now live in Lake Charles but my roots run deep and solid, you need to get your own life together and leave ours alone.
Posted By: Amy Woodruff On: 11/1/2012
Just wanted to make sure folks had the link to donate to the Toussaint-a-Thon! As before, proceeds benefit Woodruff's performances of "Moon Cove" (which run in New Orleans from Nov 30-Dec 4), and historic Istre Cemetery. All donations are secure through PayPal, and donors will receive an exclusive password to watch a delayed documentary-style webcast of this week's cemetery vigil installation. Thanks SO much!