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Caridad Svich's The Way of Water

Emily Anne Gibson discusses dramaturging a play reading around the date of the two-year anniversary of the BP oil spill.

"Caridad Svich's new play The Way of Water is about the aftermath of the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill and its effects on human health and the environment in the US Gulf region." - The Way of the Water press release

NoPassport theatre has reached out to theaters all over the world to put together a reading series. 20 United States universities will be hosting full readings of The Way of Water around the date of the two-year anniversary of the BP oil spill. I have the wonderful opportunity to be on a committee of three dramaturgs organizing this event at Carnegie Mellon University.

First of all, I found this massive theater initiative to be an awesome idea. So many readings across the country (and abroad) in such a short time span forms a web of connections, and it says that the issues this play deals with are important to all of us, whether we're on the Gulf Coast or far away in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Second of all, this particular play is important because it demands that we remember. The BP oil spill was all over the news for a week, but the effects were much more lasting than that. The Way of Water delves not only into the environmental hazards of the spill but how it affected people and how it continues to do so. The play looks at poverty, human relationships, and our relationship with the world around us.

All in all, this is a project I feel strongly about being involved in. I have a lot of beliefs about theater, but one of them is that it should provide a social commentary. And this most certainly does. I also think theater should create a conversation. And I believe that The Way of the Water will do just that. And I know, first hand, that theater must be communal - this reading series is a wonderful embodiment of that community, and when the play receives its world premiere, I believe that it will create a community out of its audience that can talk, argue, collaborate, and come to new understandings.

On a completely different note, I've been given the chance to work with two other people to organize a special event. One of the things I love about my college experience has been the opportunities I get here. My professor found out about this theater initiative and asked his students who would like to make it happen. It's giving me an experience that I can learn from and that I know will be helpful to me in the future, and that is what education's all about. This is one of those cases where taking on an extra project really pays off in a lot of ways - I'd suggest spear-heading projects at your university, because it's so rewarding.

The CMU reading of The Way of Water will be in the Purnell Center for the Arts at 6pm on Monday, April 16. This event is free of charge and there will be refreshments.

You can find out more about the project, including a list of the readings that will happen during the second and third weeks of April, at


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