"Show Me" THE WAY OF WATER at University of Missouri
Fri, 04/13/2012 - 10:01 hhelinsky
On Tuesday, April 10, 2012, the Missouri Playwrights Workshop hosted a reading of Caridad Svich's THE WAY OF THE WATER. The workshop is very informal, a playwright's salon, if you will, and we bring a general sense of openness and interest in craft which is a bit outside the typical audience experience. And of course, they're Missourians, or mostly Missourians, so there is always that attitude of "show me" to any work presented at the workshop. Meaning, you've got to "show them" why they should care about what it is you're trying to say. We are the "show me" state, after all—and we're just this side of cranky about our drama.
The group was mostly Mizzou undergrads, with a few local writers, and a graduate student or two. It was more packed than usual, as we have had Caridad as a guest artist in the past, and they love her, and her magic, and really respect her writing.
I think it's safe to say, that Caridad "showed them" - that is, she opened their eyes to the depth of misery that the folks around the Gulf have experienced Post-BP-Oil-Spill: the sickness, the betrayal, the frustration with their government officials and their own ability to change what has happened. And in our post-play discussion, to basically wrestle with the issues that Caridad raises so eloquently in her play—we all struggled with the kind of paralysis that seems to have happened since the Oil Spill and since Katrina. Since we're just up the Mississippi a bit from all these events, the students know folks down on the Gulf, have family there, and the awful pain and suffering experienced by Jimmy, Rosalie, Yuki, and Neva was very close to home.
Like the Missourians we are, we wrestled with the dramaturgy of the play, discussed what we felt worked, and what didn't work—hey, we're a cranky bunch of scribblers, ya know—but at the same time, the students were furiously googling all the different sicknesses that have lingered since the Oil Spill, the horrifying effects of Corexit, the lack of protective gear for those who cleaned up the spill, the ghoulish quality of PAH or polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons---aspects that Caridad hauntingly recreated with her magic—the vomiting of fish, the orchids of paper and pipe cleaners, the notion that, like the survivors of the Bikini Island nuclear tests, there would be no return to paradise for the good fishing folk of the Gulf of Mexico.
In the end, we were all grateful to have had taken this moment with THE WAY OF THE WATER with Caridad, nearly two years out from the original explosion of the Deepwater Horizon, as this issue will linger for many years, and there are protesters still there—though too few—whose protests still need to be heard. We need to Occupy these problems; we need to embrace this pain. Even as BP and all those smiling happy commercials tells us all it's okay to come back to the Gulf, and swim, and eat what's there—it's important that my students had the opportunity to hear a different voice, and a voice that is as passionate and lyric as Caridad's to remind us that there is still many years of work to be done to rectify the terrible poisoning of the Gulf of Mexico, after the disaster of the BP Oil Spill.
Dr. David A. Crespy, Associate Professor of Playwriting
Director, Undergraduate Studies
Artistic Director, Missouri Playwrights Workshop
Co-Director, MU Writing for Performance Program
Resident Playwright, First Run Theatre Company,
St. Louis Missouri Field Representative, Dramatist Guild, Inc
THE WAY OF WATER by Caridad Svich was read at the Missouri Playwrights Workshop at the University of Missouri Department of Theatre on April 10th, at 7pm. Dr. David A. Crespy, Artistic Director