A report from Broadway World.
What Will the Neighbors Say? announces that the company will be travelling to Puerto Rico for the month of March to begin research and development for their latest project. The devised performance piece, “Agua, Vida y Tierra,” is a response to the trauma of Hurricane María, as well as to the legacy of centuries of colonialism in general on the island. Following the residency, WWTNS? will begin a two month development process in Brooklyn, culminating in a public showing at the end of June, ahead of a workshop production in the Spring of 2020 at a soon-to-be-announced venue in New York.
Both Co-Artistic Director Jorge Morales Picó and Resident Photographer Pablo Calderón-Santiago grew up in San Juan, and they and their families were deeply affected by the devastation of the Hurricane. This piece was inspired by a need to record the stories, memories and experiences of Puerto Ricans (both on the island and beyond) in relation to this seismic event in their history. As the WWTNS? team began to more deeply consider the form of this piece, they came to two distinct realisations. Firstly, it became clear that the Hurricane and subsequent response were part of a larger conversation about colonialism, political status, and national identity. Secondly, they realised this piece needed to be devised in order to have a varied range of perspectives and voices. This residency is the first step in that process.
“Agua, Vida y Tierra” will be a bilingual multimedia documentary theatre piece: part epic poem, part searing historical drama, part celebration and part funeral liturgy. The production will combine video, sound, music, dance, text and projection, and the audience will be taken back and forth across time and space, never quite sure if what they are seeing is real or imagined. Based on the interviews and research gathered during this residency, the project will reflect on a continuous legacy of erasure, cultural death and denial of Puerto Rican humanity by colonizing powers in the last 400 years. In the most fundamental sense, “Agua, Vida y Tierra” is a study of life, of death, of survival, of regeneration, and of humanity.
Morales-Picó and Calderón-Santiago will be joined for the residency by fellow Co-Artistic Directors Ana Cristina Schuler, James Clements, and Sam Hood Adrain. In addition, the WWTNS? team will collaborate with numerous local artists on the island, who will be announced in the coming weeks. The full cast of devising collaborators for the Brooklyn workshop will be announced in May.
What Will the Neighbors Say? is a 501(c)3 theatre company based in New York City with a global perspective. WWTNS? creates theatre that examines historical, social, political and economic narratives that have been disregarded, misrepresented, or otherwise untold in order to provoke discourse in our audience and community. WWTNS? maintains a consistent commitment to diversity, arts education, community outreach, and artistic experimentation.
Provoking questions through untold stories.