The LSU Department of Theatre will host staged readings of Spill, a play and visual installation inspired by the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon/BP oil spill, at 7:30 p.m. Sunday and Monday, Nov. 18-19, in the Studio Theatre in the LSU Music and Dramatic Arts Building on Dalrymple Drive on campus.
The staged readings will serve as a culmination of a two-week workshop with playwright Leigh Fondakowski, in which the department’s master of fine arts students participated, focusing on “moment work” techniques grounded in the text of the work.
Spill, the co-creation of Fondakowski and visual artist Reeva Wortel, is based on interviews with people of south Louisiana in the wake of the spill, widely perceived as the largest environmental disaster in United States history.
The art installation is a series of life-sized portraits of those interviewed and is intended to extend the life of this story past the final scene in the theater. The artists began interviewing in March 2011, speaking with a broad array of Louisiana residents, including Gulf fishermen, political figures, cleanup workers and the friends and families of those lost in the Deepwater Horizon tragedy.
Spill tells the dramatic story of the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon and the impact on the coastal communities and marine life of Louisiana. This production explores the rich culture of Louisiana and the resilient nature of its inhabitants in the face of natural destruction and tragedy. Expressing the fundamental story of man versus nature, at the core of Spill is the question, “What is the true human and environmental cost of oil?” Fondakowski was the head writer of The Laramie Project and has been a member of the Tectonic Theatre Project since 1995. This project builds on the tradition of “moment work.” Created by Moisés Kaufman and developed by the members of Tectonic Theater Project, moment work is a technique for creating and analyzing theater in which all of the elements of the stage are used to create new work.
“Our task as theatre artists is to expand the boundaries of what is possible on stage and to make the work that does what the medium does best,” Fondakowski said. “We believe in a theatre that addresses the important social and human issues that affect us all.”
Wortel is an interdisciplinary artist who creates narrative portrait-based projects that combine interview, social commentary, performance and large-scale installation. Driven by a commitment to develop the technique of portraiture beyond its traditional limits, she has worked in communities as a social justice advocate and artist, honing a technique to narrate the individual stories of the time through her portraiture. Her process involves in-depth interviewing, photography, painting and installation. She has been the recipient of several grants as a muralist, choreographer and installation artist, and has exhibited her work in Oregon, Colorado, California, New York, New Zealand and Amsterdam.
“This project is especially significant for LSU given the high level of involvement of our campus with the Deepwater Horizon spill,” said Department of Theatre Chair Kristin Sosnowsky. “It expresses a particularly poignant aspect of this event for the people of Louisiana and underscores the continuing effects on our communities.
“LSU has been deeply involved in the response to the spill since the first, with researchers involved in studies about everything from the safe extraction of oil from the sea floor to long-term studies about the effects of the spill on wetland ecosystems and the health of people inhabiting the coastline. After the well was capped on July 15, 2010, the rest of the world assumed that the event was over. Spill comments on the fact that this is an ongoing story in the Gulf, especially in Louisiana.”
The readings are free. For more information, visit http://theatre.lsu.edu.
LSU Department of Theatre