The Ko Festival of Performance in Amherst and the Serious Play Theatre Ensemble in Northampton have teamed up to present Moving Water. The production explores climate change and the global water crisis.
Moving Water will premiere live to a sold-out crowd on July 22nd and will also have an online option available for viewing beginning July 30th. This multimedia physical theater production is designed to bring audiences a deeper understanding of our relationship to water.
Zydalis Bauer spoke with Sabrina Hamilton, the Artistic Director of the Ko Festival of Performance and Rosalyn Driscoll, Dramaturg for Moving Water, to learn more about the piece.
Read the full transcript:
Zydalis Bauer, Connecting Point: The Ko Festival of Performance and the Serious Play Theater Ensemble have teamed up to present Moving Water, a theater piece centered on climate change and the global water crisis.
The production will be premiering live to a sold out crowd on July 22nd and will also have an online option available for viewing beginning July 30th.
This multimedia physical theater production is designed to bring audiences a deeper understanding of our relationship to water. And I spoke with Sabrina Hamilton, the Artistic Director of the Festival of Performance, and Rosalind Driscoll, Dramaturg for Moving Water, to learn more.
Rosalyn Driscoll, Moving Water: It occurred to me that with all the bad news, people need the good news. They need to connect to their relationship to water. Everybody loves water.
And I think if you’re reminded of what you love, you work to save it, to protect it, to conserve and cherish it. So, that was the original impulse.
Zydalis Bauer: Rosalyn, your fine art inspired the creation of Moving Water, and a lot of your work has focused on the inner experience and physicality of the body.
Where did this interest in sensory perception begin for you and how did you channel that for this piece in particular?
Rosalyn Driscoll: I think it came from being a child in the woods and the streams of where I grew up in Minnesota, that that was a natural part of growing up. And there became a point at which there was a separation through my education between mind and body and I felt it was time to bring that back together.
And that led to the engagement with water on a sensory basis, because that’s where we live, and that’s really the way we know water most intimately.
So, this production has all the dimensions, all the sensory dimensions, the sound and the light, and even — there are moments when the sound vibrates the body so that it becomes a visceral experience of what’s going on, on stage.
Zydalis Bauer: Now, upon exiting the performance, attendees will be met with a hand washing ritual that’s designed to invoke the relationship that all beings have to water.
What other ways throughout the performance will people be reminded of this relationship?
Sabrina Hamilton, Ko Festival of Performance: Either you literally see water in that there is a water tank on stage, which came from some of your earlier experiments that in some of the earlier phases, where you were working with tanks of water and reflecting it up onto a large projection screen. So, we have water projections, but a tank of water that moves, and then you see in that image, it’s in the text.
So, different audience members sort of have different primary senses, I think. And I think we just hit just about all of them in this piece.
Zydalis Bauer: Now, climate change is disputed by some. And in fact, you have even included a character in the performance that is a climate change denier.
Why did you want to include this character? And what do you say to people who take this stance on the matter?
Sabrina Hamilton: It’s important to remember that we don’t all come to a theater as one and that it’s important to represent lots of different voices. Otherwise, it’s sort of a pitch piece, and instead it needs to to really bring all the voices to the table it can.
And then we will also be having discussions with members of the creative team, of course, but also some guest experts or people who really had water central in their work for a long time.
Zydalis Bauer: Recently, I witnessed firsthand the water crisis out west at Lake Mead, where the reservoir has reached its lowest point, according to The Washington Post. And it honestly really resonated with me, just witnessing that in person.
What are some ways that humans can be really mindful of their water consumption?
Rosalyn Driscoll: I think it’s partly a matter of being aware of the implications of one’s water views. So, it’s about balancing. It’s about about being responsible for your own family and your own perhaps your own community.
But then each of us is part of a watershed that we can be responsible for. Each of us can learn where our water comes from and how to protect that.
Sabrina Hamilton: It’s so much a part of the local legislative process right now, especially as we’re looking at a lot of this massive solar installations. So many towns are having to rethink their solar bylaws because what’s happening is that they’re clearcutting.
There’s a right across the road from me, they were proposing clearcutting 40-acres of land on a fairly steep grade, right about above a river that is a brown trout hatchery. And the implications for this are just huge in terms of how that will affect it.
So, every single one of us is finding it, in small or large ways, is cropping up.
Zydalis Bauer: How have you found theater to be an effective medium to create and present performances that bring awareness to these social issues?
Sabrina Hamilton: I think it’s because it touches the heart. And that it creates — I always like to think of it as said, like dropping a pebble in a pond and you have rings that spread out.
And my metric is not how many or how much, it’s how sticky can we make the experience? How long can those ripples reverberate?
And I think reading an article can be terrific at that, but getting into somebodies — when you see the hairs on people’s arms rise up during your performance, you know that that image is going to stay.