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THE WAY OF WATER at Barnard College

by Lisa Campbell, senior at Barnard College doubling double majoring in English and Music

When I first was introduced to The Way of Water, I was completely unaware to the depth and impact the project would have. I knew The Way of Water would commemorate the 2 year anniversary of the oil spill, and I knew the play would be read across the country in April. When I read the script, I started to understand its potential impact. The actors and I (as director) started researching the lasting effects of the spill. We explored the background of the play and we approached the characters with the understanding that they could be real people. Although we are all students in a college in New York City, through our work with the script and outside research, we all came to understand the truth and relevance of their characters and their situation.

After brainstorming a bit with Ms. Svich and the Barnard Theater Department, I decided to include a panel discussion with the reading. Thus, we expanded the project to include those not just involved in theater, but involved in the scientific research of the spill. For our final reading, we were so lucky to be joined by Dr. Timothy Crone who had used video image analysis to estimate the rate that oil was leaking from the damaged well and determine the total amount of oil released. His early estimates were ten times higher than official estimates in the first few weeks of the incident. Eventually, government estimates increased to confirm the higher flow rates. We were also lucky to be joined by Ms. Svich for our panel discussion and reading. Thus, after a reading of the first act of the play, we held a discussion about the spill, inspiration for the project, and where we can go from here. Bringing together the theatrical and scientific elements of the project was illuminating for everyone involved in the production as well as the audience.

All of the feedback I received from the audience was positive, and people told me that while enjoying themselves and being entertained, they also learned so much about the spill and they were left with lasting images and ideas. Our reading and panel started a conversation between the audience, actors, playwright, and scientists, and I'm confident that this conversation will be an ongoing one.

I was very lucky to be involved, and I am glad to see that we are able to make a change. I hope this is just the beginning.

The Way of Water by Caridad Svich was read at Barnard College on April 10th, 2012 at the Glicker-Milstein Theatre, directed by Lisa Campbell.