In Twice the First Time, Cincinnati-based Napoleon Maddox performs and retells the true story of his great-grand aunts, conjoined twins Millie-Christine. Born into slavery in 1851, Millie-Christine lived an extraordinary life jumping between autonomy and captivity, emancipation and exploitation. Here, Maddox uses the hyphen separating Millie-Christine as a metaphor for "Black" life in America; trapped between two identities, examined and exhibited.
While Millie-Christine were inspected and labeled sideshow freaks, they defiantly self-identified as "beautifully and wonderfully made.” Twice The First Time celebrates this strength, bringing Millie-Christine to life with poetry, song, and scenography that draws on the powerful metaphor present in their story; the truth of Africans living American, captured persons living free, and the objectified claiming dignity. Mining the experiences and documents of Millie-Christine’s performances, speculative fiction will be developed via youth workshops both in Cincinnati and abroad and woven into the narrative, introducing audiences to Millie-Christine as she was then, and would be now.
This performance is generously supported by Taft Research Center
Promotional partner: National Underground Rail Road Freedom Center
Twice the First Time is commissioned by the Contemporary Arts Center, and developed in partnership with Banlieues Bleues (Seine-Saint-Denis)