CNM’s First In-Person Theater Production in Three Years Is an Intimate Look at Family Heritage

The production is full of moving stories about how our histories shape our identities
November 10, 2022

For CNM’s new Fall Term Theater production “Family Tree and Me,” students examine how their heritage and history influence both their identity and their sense of belonging. 

The idea for the show came to CNM faculty member Dodie Montgomery while she was grappling with her own identity right before the pandemic. She was visiting her parents to help them after her mother started suffering from dementia and one afternoon Dodie realized her mom didn’t recognize her. 

“It really clicked for me then that all the stories she used to tell and all of the information she holds about our family is locked up in her mind forever,” Dodie says. 

Shortly after returning home lockdown began and Dodie started the PBS show, “Finding Your Roots.” Each episode follows a celebrity as they uncover new information about their lineage. The more she watched, the more Dodie understood the impact heritage has on identity. 

“I watched people transform with the new information they had about their family history,” she says. “And I thought ‘I want to make a show about this.’”

Fast forward to the present and her dream is coming to life with “Family Tree and Me”. It’s a devised work, meaning there wasn’t a pre-written script. Each of the four CNM theater students have played a role in creating this show by interviewing a family member and memorizing the interview to recite verbatim. Movement also plays a big role in the production. The cast spent three weeks learning to communicate physically. 

“Devising is an enriching and powerful way to create theater,” Dodie says. “There is not one writer, each student is coming up with different pieces.” 

These pieces come together to highlight each actors’ heritage, along with the blessings and burdens that come with it. 

“The cast is incredibly courageous in their willingness to share their stories, exploring their heritage, and putting it out there for people to see,” Dodie says. “It’s a very physical show, which takes a hell of a lot of courage also.”

Along with the work of Dodie and the cast, several other CNM students and staff members have helped bring this show to life. 

“I am deeply grateful to CNM, the staff, the producer, the designer, and everyone else who is throwing down to get to the core of this idea and then perform it for a group of people to enjoy,” Dodie says. 

“Family Tree and Me” opens November 10 and runs until November 20. Dodie and the cast are excited to welcome people back to the CAT Theater on Main Campus to watch the show. 

“People are flocking back to the theater, which is really great after such a long time of virtual shows or no shows at all,” Dodie explains. “We are moving forward in the new normal, and it’s really great to see so many shows happening, including ours.”

For showtimes and to purchase tickets, please click here.