THE WAY OF WATER at Rosemary Branch Theatre, London
by Daniel Wilcox, actor
As an actor, quickly assembled readings are a way to work your instrument- making quick choices, connecting with actors you haven't been rehearsing with for long and trusting your impulses. While reading for the role of Jimmy in The Way of Water was another opportunity to keep my engine up and running, what made this particular experience unique was not so much my own work but more about where we were reading and for whom-- a theatre in London with a small but engaged mostly English crowd, whose experience with the BP catastrophe, let alone the backdrop of American back country and its complexities, were somewhat new.
During the break between parts I and II a cheery Englishman amusingly asked "what's a Hot Pocket?" in reference to the dialogue exchanged by the characters over the sad reality of that night's dinner. As fellow American and actor/director Bryony Thompson and I chuckled and explained to him that it was comparable to a cornish pasty in the U.K, it wasn't until afterwards that this small exchange with a friendly and curious foreigner made me realize how important this play is. The Hot Pocket question encompassed the importance of this experience---this was not just a play reading, this was an opportunity to give another culture some knowledge of our own and further expose the TRUTH--that big idea that is often covered like the gulf fish in the sludge of that terrible spill. As a citizen I was blown away by the dramaturgy behind Caridads Svich's writing because as much as I knew about the BP spill, I realized how much information has been unsaid, even left out--namely the lives ruined in the creole community by the dispersant used during clean-up. This then was a chance for another part of the world to see, and I think we achieved that as people talked afterwards about how informative the facts behind the story were.
It was honor to read for Jimmy, a character who to me represents the complexity of America--its people, its politics, its cynicism, hope, corruption. He is all of us, the good and the bad, the occupier and the dutiful soldier, the fighter, the defeated. And that's the way it is. No morality tale here, just the truth in all its misery and hope. I came in to this project as an actor looking to work his stuff, I left feeling like I had part in letting people in on the truth of a dire situation, a small victory, but a start.
The Way of Water by Caridad Svich was read at the Rosemary Branch Theatre in London on May 13th, 2012.