Spotlight On: Dark Water 

Christopher Borg 

When you are an organization dedicated to creating, nurturing and recognizing community, it is exhilarating to witness leading members of that community collaborate to create new work. And in the spirit of Valentines Day it is exciting to see an artistic match being made.

Such is the case for the MTWorks' production of Dark Water by David Stallings, a new play examining the ramifications of the Gulf oil spill and opening in March at the 14 Street Y.
Dark Water is an example of how creating a new piece of work can foster crossovers between indie theater companies, such as the Flux Theatre Ensemble (nominated for their productions of The Angel Eaters Trilogy, The Lesser Seductions of History and Dog Act, as well as the recipients of the coveted Caffe Cino Fellowship Award in 2011) and MTWorks (nominated for Costa Rehab).

The production is directed by Flux Theatre Ensemble's Producing Director, Heather Cohn (Outstanding Director nominee for The Lesser Seductions of History). The set is designed by Will Lowry, who is a Creative Partner of Flux; sound is designed by another Flux regular Janie Bullard; and the actor Chester Poon who was in Flux's Hearts Like Fists (and will be in their upcoming Jane the Plain) performs.

Flux Theatre Ensemble and MTWorks have more in common. Flux is an ensemble-artist driven company dedicated to long-term collaboration and uniting artists and embracing transformative theatre. They have received several awards from the Fringe Festival and were a 2-time Village Voice Audience Favorite.
MTWorks (originally known as Maieutic Theatre Works) started in 2006 as a trio of like-minded artists (Co-Artistic Directors David Stallings and Antonio Miniño, and former Executive Director Cristina Alicea). Since then it has grown into a family of over 50 artists dedicated to developing new plays that challenge perceptions of diversity.
MTWorks has been developing the ambitious Dark Water, the story of the Louisiana swampland and its encounter with the worst oil spill known in history as seen through the eyes of Barnacle, a sea turtle as she fights against man's destruction and nature's wrath to save her children trapped in the spill. Using poetry, allegory, music, puppetry and movement, the production creates a magical world of animals fighting for their lives to explore the larger issues of immigration, religion, and the effects of oil spills that continue to jeopardize our oceans.
In the words of Stallings: "I was inspired by the many emotions that raged through me after the 2010 Louisiana oil spill. Dark Water takes place mostly underwater and with animals as the primary characters, because I feel they are the true victims, along with the environment, which we as a human race abuse without remorse. The earth does not belong to humans alone; we share her resources with other living beings."
"The allegory in Dark Water involves the animals, dealing with tragedy, acting as humans do: dividing land amongst themselves, drawing lines where other animals cannot pass, exhibiting forms of racism and abusing religion to promote self-power. Like every good story there is love and there is hope: the true heart of the play is Barnacle the turtle, who is seeking shelter for her children."
The production stars Susan G. Bob, Lily Drexler, Emily Hartford (nominated for Outstanding Ensemble for The Night of Nosferatu), Erica Lauren McLaughlin (nominated for Outstanding Ensemble for Balm in Gilead), Dianna Martin, Antonio Miniño, Stephen Conrad Moore, Kathleen O’Neill, Chester Poon and Brian Silliman.
It also features a roster of high-profile designers including Will Lowry (sets), David Withrow (costumes – Outstanding Costume Design nominee for Bug Boy Blues), Daniel Gallagher (lights), Janie Bullard (sound), puppetry by Emily Hartford and choreography by Stephanie Willing.
Dark Water will have a three-week engagement from March 14 – March 29.
For tickets and more information click here: MTWORKS.ORG/DARKWATER.


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