I am on fire - Story of a child of immigrant parents finding her identity

M’ap Boulé – Home is where I lay play with songs is streaming on SemiLive!

🌻 1€ per sold ticket will be donated to a family in Haiti working within the community.

M’ap Boulé – Home is where I lay is telling the story of a child of immigrant parents growing up in Australia finding her identity. It explores the story of the first black-led republic of Haiti and the personal narrative of a Haitian-Australian woman living on Gadigal land in Waterloo. ‘M’ap Boulé’ translated to English means ‘I’m on fire’ in Haitian Creole, a language that was developed during the Haitian Revolution in 1804.

Written by Nancy Denis and directed by Hilton Denis, M’ap Boulé features original music composed by Carl St Jacques with lyrics by Nancy Denis.

M’ap Boulé was commissioned and produced by Utp. Urban Theatre Project is based in Bankstown (Australia) and re-imagines what art can be, and who it can be for.

SemiLive interviewed Map Boulé’s Lead Artist, Writer and Performer Nancy Denis.

Photo by Ntombi Moyo

Where did the idea come from and why you wanted to make the play?

The idea for the play I think has been brewing inside of me since primary school to be honest, maybe since year 5 when I learnt about the white Australia policy and was immediately feeling out of place. The name didn’t come until my last residency with UTP before filming.

 “Hopefully my play with songs can inspire a spark or an idea of belonging and acceptance of how you feel.”

Who should watch the play and why?

White people! Hahahahaha.

Yes they should watch it but it’s also mainly for people like me, children of immigrant parents. It’s for the children/people who felt and maybe still feel angry inside and out of place and are searching for a place of belonging. Hopefully my play with songs Ma’p Boulé Home is where I Lay can inspire a spark or an idea of belonging and acceptance of how you feel.

Tell us about the collaboration with Utp

I first worked with Urban Theatre Project on a beautiful show called Home Country and I was a part of that project almost from the very beginning, so about 18 months from when I came on board to our first live show. It was in a carpark!

I really loved the process and the time UTP gave to the artists to create their work in an authentic manner. After the show finished I was asked by the artistic director at the time Rosie Dennis, no relation hahaha, to take up a residency with UTP and I said yes because it made me nervous. She believed in my talent and gave me the room to explore and the support to express.

Photo by Ntombi Moyo

“It was however the first time in my life that I as a performer yelled at the director. I had a full moment, we both did. It was very funny.”

How did you find it to perform as a Lead Artist in your own script?

Ahh ahahahah, a lot harder than I was expecting. I experienced a bit of imposter syndrome. Having my brother Hilton Denis direct was the best thing for me and the show. He knows me well and isn’t afraid to push me or the show and I trust him. It was however the first time in my life that I as a performer yelled at the director. I had a full moment, we both did. It was very funny.

What kind of feedback have you been given about the play?

People enjoyed it and were moved by the story which I am grateful for. White people liked it and felt confronted and that was definitely what I wanted them to feel, I wanted them to feel uncomfortable. I wanted people who look like me and children of immigrants to feel understood and or relate to the feelings I try to express.

Tell us about the cause you want to support and why you choose it.

For me it’s all about family, especially the family back home in Haiti. My Family here in ‘Australia’ where sovereignty was never ceded. We do what we can to support them and we have a big mob to love and support through the privileges we are afforded being born and grown from this beautiful land.

Photo by Ntombi Moyo

The donation goes directly to our family and all of my work for the rest of my life will do that. I can not change the whole world or support every cause but I can and will support my family and continue to inspire the rest of the world as best I can through my various art forms.

Anything else you'd like to say?

I’d like to thank God, my Ancestors, my warriors who protect me and my Guardian father, for watching me, inspiring me and guiding me on my path. Iboya Iboru Asé.


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