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What I learned from THE WAY OF WATER at IUP

by Christina Soracco, stage management student at Indiana University of Pennsylvania

The way I got involved in this project was both, in my opinion, bit random and perhaps a stroke of luck for both Jason and myself. I had initially contacted Prof. Chimonides with a project of my own, as I am a playwright just starting out, and was asking for help with what was to be the second workshop for me. This turned into one of those you scratch my back I'll scratch yours sort of deals. I was of course thrilled to help Jason. When Prof. Chimonides first came to me looking for help for IUP’s reading of Caridad Svich’s The Way of Water I initially thought that it would be fun, and a nice thing to do. I would be helping Prof. Chimonides out with one of his projects.

A couple of days passed and I heard nothing and then he sent out about 10 e-mails to me. Most of these were just correspondence e-mails but two or three really started me on, what I now consider to be a journey, this project. Those e-mails contained first and foremost the script, which I consider to be the body of this whole project and then also the No Passport website and the Indigogo website. I perused the sites in my free time that day and couldn't wait to read script, which I did later that night. It was beautiful. Heart wrenching.

We read through the script with the whole cast the night before. In my opinion that was moving in itself. They were really able to immerse themselves in the characters they portrayed and played very well off of each other. So will actually I asked them if they read through it before together over the weekend. Of course they hadn’t but it being my first experience with something like this I was pretty amazed. On the night of what I refer to as the official reading, they read it even better. My naïve-ness led me to believe such a thing was not possible, I'm glad they proved me wrong. Watching them once again interact with each other and with the inclusion of the audience was something that was just incredible to me.
Talking about incredible the line that stuck out to me the most was the last line on page 91 “Man can't get sick in this country.” This is also found on the indigo go website and just reading it alone before I read through the script I thought it was talking about our ability as a race to prevent sickness among ourselves. Obviously this was incorrect and that was made clear after I read through the script. But Jimmy's words mean to me, is that in their line of work, which has been turned upside down by the oil spill and the chemicals that were distributed, they can't afford to get sick. If they do they lose everything.
This really struck a chord with me because it's so hard to believe how heartless and how willing these big oil companies are to look other way. In my opinion, their job is not even close to being finished. They have ruined the livelihoods of countless numbers of families along the coastal region they're acting as though everything is just fine, that's just messed up.
I guess it's me getting a little bit off topic in that last paragraph. We have a talkback at the end of our reading and some parts of people's families lived in the affected regions. Should the person who spoke said that her family reunions in the last couple years sounded a lot like the script. We all laughed at first, because, I'm guessing, of, the language. We’re so far away from it up here in Pennsylvania that it's for and to us at whatever we talk of rednecks this is kind of what we imagine so in that way it was humorous. After the initial response, which might’ve lasted all of five seconds it got very serious. The atmosphere in the room changed as reality settled in. I think that everyone walked away from this perhaps with more than they bargained for, but when it's about spreading the word of something so important I think we did a good job.
I have come out of work with this project, not only with something I can add to my resume haha, but with a deeper understanding of many things. The first and foremost being a critically deeper understanding of the effects of the BP oil spill. I also learned partly what sort of time and effort goes into spreading the word, getting people to show up, getting the community involved, finding actors and overall just getting this thing up and running. This was a great experience for me and I am honored to be part of something like this. I think it really shows us how easily things can be forgotten, and held something like a play can enlighten us so much.
The Way of Water by Caridad Svich was read on April 10th, 2012 at the Indiana University of Pennsylvania, directed by Jason Chimonides.