Center for the Arts Director Pamela Tatge talks to Josh Cohen ’14 and Matthew Krakauer ’14 about what they learned from writer Leigh Fondakowski and scientist Barry Chernoff. “SPILL”, Ms. Fondakowski‘s collaboration with visual artist Reeva Wortel, will be performed in Beckham Hall this weekend (Feb. 25 & 26).
I went to Beckham Hall on Tuesday as Leigh Fondakowski and Reeva Wortel were loading in elements for SPILL, a new work that Wesleyan and others have commissioned about the 2010 Gulf Coast oil spill. We’ve seen images of Reeva’s portraits, but finally we were able to see the eight foot tall canvasses unpacked. They are life-sized representations of the people whom Fondakowski and Wortel interviewed, people whose lives were changed forever.
This weekend, the stories of oyster fishermen, Tea Party Republicans, families of oil riggers and others will be told in a choral reading format by Fondakowski’s New York-based cast. Wesleyan students also had the chance to meet and interview some of these people when they took a course that Fondakowski and Barry Chernoff, Director of the College of the Environment, co-taught last summer in and around New Orleans.
They learned about the aftermath of the spill through the lens of a scientist and an artist. They toured the beaches and the bayou, understanding the science of what occurred and meeting with scientists about the condition of coastal wildlife. They also learned Fondakowski’s interviewing techniques and how she uses a technique entitled Moment Work to create a piece of theater. When I saw Josh Cohen ’14, a student in the course at Young Jean Lee’s talk this week, he said: “I have to go back to Louisiana. [Fondakowski and Chernoff] introduced me to a world I’d never experienced before. I learned about making theater from the ground up. As a result, it completely changed the way I look at everything. I can’t wait to see Leigh’s play.” He was with Matthew Krakauer ’14, another student in the course: “I learned a completely new way to think about theater. I had one mindset about how theater is made, but this class changed everything. In fact, Moment Work informed how I experienced my entire time there. I can’t wait to go back.”
Tickets for SPILL are extremely limited: only 50 per performance, so if you are interested in attending, do buy your tickets early.
Saturday, February 25, 2012 at 7pm & 10pm
Sunday, February 26, 2012 at 2pm & 7pm
Fayerweather Beckham Hall , Wyllys Avenue
$12 general public; $10 senior citizens, Wesleyan faculty/staff, non-Wesleyan students; $5 Wesleyan students