by Lisa Campbell, senior at Barnard College doubling double majoring in English and Music
by Lisa Campbell, senior at Barnard College doubling double majoring in English and Music
by Michael Thomas Walker, Producer
by Marilo Nunez, Artistic Director
When Caridad Svich asked Alameda Theatre Company to be part of the international reading scheme for her play The Way of Water, I was honoured and immediately jumped at the chance. I was interested in bringing environmental awareness to the forefront and in creating alliances with Latin American writers outside of Canada.
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.
by Ric Oquita
As a longtime admirer of Caridad’s work, I felt especially honored to have participated as an actor, portraying Jimmy, in the Berlin reading at the English Theatre directed by Jake Whitlen and accompanied by actors Nichola MacEvilly, Seamus Sargent and Katharina Sporrer.
It was an intense experience, given our roughly seven hours rehearsal together. We began with a conversation about the details of the oil spill, the aftermath and the current situation, to get a better understanding of its dreadful impact on the lives of the characters.
We read through the script, focusing primarily on keeping the images and humor in the text vivid. I was particularly interested in tracking when characters were taking a stand, withdrawing or vascillating from one moment to the next in regards to staying quiet or speaking out against the “Big Pigs”.
We had some time again to get on our feet and explore the physical life of the story. As a dancer, this is where I began to feel the language come alive and the ever present water and heat inform the musicality in the text. I kept the depths and impulses of the water close to me as Jimmy’s illness begins to surface and reveal itself physically.
My father was also very close to me in the process. I chose to draw on my father’s struggle with the onset of dementia as he fights to hold on to his memories, which often reveal themselves in dreams while he is awake. I see Jimmy also as a strong man fighting to hold on to his memories in a culture where amnesia is often celebrated.
40 people or so came out for the event. native German speakers for the most part who I felt were listening very intently to the story. Once the audience had gotten used to our voices and the richness of the text, their laughter came easily, especially after our intermission.
It also felt like, after intermission, we all felt the stakes burning in the room. There were moments of intense quiet, almost as if the audience was holding their collective breath, when everyone realized what was being lost. That happened for me anytime Jimmy surveyed the water and his property.
After the last moment, when Jimmy decides to protest, there was a breath and then a long, sustained applause from the audience. I'm certain actors in other readings felt the same lift in that last moment. It was joyous.
We were pleased with the reading and also felt a definite longing to live with the play longer. I wonder how the actors in other readings responded to that longing. For myself, the play went deep and my body needed a couple of days to recover from the experience. I feel that it has touched the actorvist in me, which I'd suspected had gone the way of water. It's been envigorating following postings from other participants on this blog. Thank you Caridad for your vision and for honoring, so eloquently, the people of Plaquemines Parish.
The Way of Water by Caridad Svich was read on May 13th, 2012 at the English Theatre Berlin in Germany.
For actors still working on The Way of Water, watch this video posted on LEAN's blog. Jorey Danos, a clean-up worked on Vessel of Opportunity during the BP oil spill, talks about the symptoms of his health problems and the Gulf Detox Project.
---from R. Alex Davis and Heather Helinsky, dramaturgs
L.E.A.N. is the Louisiana Environmental Action Network.
by Francesca Spedalieri, PhD student in Theatre, Ohio State University
Dress rehearsal. A small room in Central Ohio.
Our Jimmy, Matthew Yde, charges in:
"Do you guys know what day it was yesterday?"
April 21, 2012.
The day after, two years ago.
"Memories like sieves in this country."
We borrowed Caridad's words to plead that we may not forget.
To take responsibility.
Because we can pull the breaks.
And stop. And rest. And start again.
Our thanks go to those who did not forget.
Who, every day, live what we have forgotten.
And to those who have the courage to pick up a sign and say
"Hear the people's wrath!"
The Way of Water by Caridad Svich was read at The Ohio State University on April 23rd, 2012, directed by Francesca Spedalieri, Ph.D. Student in Theatre. Cast: Jonathon Boyd, Ph.D. candidate in Theatre (Stage Directions), Alison Vasquez, MFA in Acting candidate (Rosalie), Matthew Yde, Ph.D. Theatre (Jimmy), Nicholas White, MFA in Creative Writing candiate (Yuki), Leela Singh, BA Theatre student (Neva).
by Angenette Marie Spalink, PhD student in Department of Theatre & Film at Bowling Green State University
On Friday, April 27, 2012, at 8 PM, a group of students, faculty, and Bowling Green community members gathered at Bowling Green State University’s Wolfe Center for the Arts to participate in a reading of Caridad Svich’s new play, The Way of Water. This staged reading was conducted in collaboration with Ms. Svich and NoPassport Theatre Alliance and Press’s organization of multiple readings across the world to commemorate the two-year anniversary of the BP Oil Spill.
I saw the reading of The Way of Water at the English Theatre Berlin, a world away from the poisoned coastline and the particular drama of being poor in America with its foreclosures and lack of health care and of a liveable safety net for its working class and poor. I found the play to be a remarkable achievement and so did the rest of the audience judging by the extended heartfelt applause. It's a beautifully detailed and powerfully written play. The actors (English-speaking ex-pats who live and work in Berlin) and their Berlin-based American director did a fantastic job of bringing the emotional and political power of the play to life. For the mostly German audience, this play must have been a very interesting case of being transported to an entirely other world. A world in which the BP disaster, brought about by greed and disregard, literally eats away at those who make their living from the water of the play's title. I wish Caridad all the best with continuing to reach audiences the world over with this story, so important and heartbreaking and yet full of humor and tenderness and love. I am very grateful that a playwright has put the working poor on stage with the dignity and humanity that is theirs. And the play brilliantly combines issues of ecology, health and economic realities.
Lydia Stryk, playwright
The Way of Water by Caridad Svich was read at the English Theatre Berlin on May 13th, 2012, directed by Jake Whitlen in Germany.
by Carl Lavery, Senior Lecturer in Drama, Theatre and Performance, Aberystwyth University, Wales, UK
When I think of The Way of Water, I think of the urban geographer Mike Davis' extraordinary essays in the book Dead Cities (2002), in particular the text 'Ecocide in Marlboro County'.
When I think of The Way of Water, I think of Karl Marx's notion of socio-sensuality, and the production - the metabolic production - of nature.
When I think of The Way of Water, I think of its sparse geometry, its rigorous, uncompromising angularity.
When I think of the Way of Water, I think of its linguistic rhythms and poetic beats - its politics of voice.
When I think of the Way of Water, I think of US socialism.
When I think of the Way of Water, I think of 4 young actors in Wales finding its meanings, walking its lines, tracing its shapes.
When I think of the Way of Water, I think of Lone Twin and of their fabulous ecologies of water, their clouds of interconnection.
When I think of the Way of Water, I think of my Dad who died from a lifetime of exposure to the toxic fuel tanks of Phantom fighter jets.
When I think of the Way of Water, I think of my Grandfather who died from lung cancer caused by the too easy use of asbestos in the Belfast Shipyard.
When I think of the Way of Water, I think of the great difference separating the 'assassin from the poet' (Deleuze and Guattari).
The Way of Water by Caridad Svich was read at Abertstwyth University Department of Theatre, Dance, and Film on April 22nd, 2012.