Same River is an improvised, inter-disciplinary performance based on local residents about water and the effects fracking has on communities.
Tickets are limited, so be sure to get yours’ today!
When: Sunday, September 8th, at 4:00 pm
Where: NACL Theatre, 110 Highland Lake Rd, Highland Lake, NY
Strike Anywhere was founded in NYC in 1997 to promote empathy, free-thinking, and greater social awareness through provocative theatre and educational outreach.
We were fortunate enough to have a quick conversation with SAPE’s Artistic/Producing Director, Leese Walker about the show. Here is some of what she had to say:
CMK: Why did you all decide to create a show focused on the community impacts of fracking?
LW: I first learned about fracking when we were invited to perform at NACL’s 10th Annual Catskill Festival of New Theatre in 2010. We were working on a new format for interdisciplinary improvisation and so I asked NACL’s Artistic Director, Tannis Kowalchuk, if there were any themes running through the festival programming that year. She responded, “Water. Definitely water.” So I thought, “OK let’s make a show about water”. I asked about local water issues and several people mentioned fracking. I knew very little about it at that time. As an ensemble, we researched the process and surrounding issues and came to do an intensive residency in the area. I had never done an interview-based process before and had been waiting for the right project to come along to employ it. This seemed perfect. That first foray into the show SAME RIVER in 2010 was a bold experiment in using an interview process to launch an improvised show. When we started, we thought the show was about water and fracking. As we dug in deeper over the last 3 years, we discovered that the show is really about how drilling has impacted communities and relationships. Water is still present in the show. The dancer who plays the character of water serves as a witness throughout the piece.
CMK: You interviewed a wide range of people from our communities to create the basis of the show. How did you connect with these people and what was the interview process like?
LW: We perform a residency in conjunction with this show on every stop of our tour. Having this time in the community allows us to conduct new interviews in each place and custom design the show to reflect the host community. When we were here three years ago, the show was totally improvised. Now we have a set structure and characters that are present in every performance but the actual dialogue within those scenes is improvised based on the interviews. NACL, our host, served as the liaison. They connected us with different community members so we could gather a wide range of voices for the piece.
The interview process this time around was particularly special because we have been here before and we met with many of the same people that we met with three years ago. It has been interesting to see how things have changed and what has stayed the same. It has been wonderful to reconnect with people and I can’t wait to show them how much the show has evolved since 2010. We have a beautiful production now replete with video projections, stunning lighting design and costumes – if you haven’t seen it before, we are a company of jazz musicians, dancers and actors so the piece is interdisciplinary.
CMK: What were the biggest surprises/challenges that arose while collecting these stories?
LW: Well, the biggest surprise has probably been to discover how multifaceted people are- all the shades of gray, the conflicting ideas within each person. Another surprise has been to hear some of the same language coming from the mouths of the most polarized voices on the spectrum, similar phrases or similar examples to prove their point. It is funny to me. The project has helped me to humanize viewpoints I disagree with. I hope it will do the same for audience members.
CMK: The performances are very audience-driven and participatory. How much has this impacted the tone and content of each performance?
LW: Every incarnation of Same River is different. It really takes on the flavor of each place that we visit. We try to capture the conversation. So naturally, the tone and content morphs and changes to reflect the communities we visit.
We also use a variety of community engagement strategies wherever we go. We figure out what the host would like to accomplish and custom design an approach to meet those needs. In past incarnations of the show, we have performed extended residencies in high schools in conjunction with the show http://www.strikeanywhere.info/videos.cfm?VID=wXwVPx1D_2M. We have had students craft new scenes and join us on stage. We have had community members come out and help us build the set. At one high school, students worked with an installation artist to create an interactive, large-scale art installation which served as the first act of the show. We always include a post-show town hall discussion. This is really important to us because the point of the show is to instigate discussion. We have found that in a lot of the places we visit, communication has broken down. We hope that by authentically presenting multiple voices on stage we can promote empathy and help to heal divides.
*NACL Theatre is a professional, not-for-profit company that has created over 15 original and ensemble theatre productions since 1997. To learn more about NACL, and to learn about ways you can support the theatre, please visit their website here.