"SPILL" directed by Leigh Fondakowski - Saturday, February 25 and Sunday, February 26 at Wesleyan University's Center for the Arts

"SPILL" directed by Leigh Fondakowski - Saturday, February 25 and Sunday, February 26 at Wesleyan University's Center for the Arts

Middletown, Conn.— Wesleyan University’s Center for the Arts presents SPILL, a collaboration between writer Leigh Fondakowski (The Laramie Project) and visual artist Reeva Wortel (American Portrait Project), on Saturday, February 25 at 7pm & 10pm; and Sunday, February 26 at 2pm & 7pm; in Fayerweather Beckham Hall, located on Wyllys Avenue on the Wesleyan campus in Middletown.

SPILL is a new play and installation that explores the true human and environmental cost of oil. SPILL is based in part on interviews with people from the Gulf Coast of southern Louisiana in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill of April 2010, the largest environmental disaster in United States history. The performances at Wesleyan are the first public showing of the art installation, featuring life-sized painted portraits of the interviewees, along with a choral reading of the play. SPILL will tour New Orleans next spring.  

In 2011, Leigh Fondakowski co-taught a Wesleyan University summer session course in Louisiana with the Chair of the College of the Environment, Professor of Earth & Environmental Sciences Barry Chernoff, entitled "The Deepwater Horizon Tragedy: A Scientific and Artistic Inquiry". You can watch a YouTube video about the course here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W-Uv1x5d7Qw&feature=youtu.be  
Among the people that Leigh Fondakowski has interviewed for SPILL since March 2011 are Nick and Wilbert Collins, Collins Oysters; Ben Dubansky, grad student in biology at Louisiana State University; Byron Encalade, oyster fisherman; Fernando Galvez, biologist, Louisiana State University; Keith Jones, who lost his son Gordon Jones in the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon; Wayne Keller, executive director of the port commission, Grand Isle, Louisiana; Albertine Kimble, project manager, Plaquemines Parish; Ryan Lambert, Cajun Fishing Excursions; Billy Nungesser, Plaquemines Parish President; Kerry St. Pe, biologist and head of the Louisiana estuary program; and Chuckie Verdin, tribal leader of the Point-au-Chien Indians.

SPILL was commissioned by the Center for the Arts with support from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Tickets for the performances are $12 for the general public; $10 for senior citizens, Wesleyan faculty/staff, and non-Wesleyan students; and $5 for Wesleyan students. Tickets are available online at http://www.wesleyan.edu/cfa, by phone at (860) 685-3355, or in person at the Wesleyan University Box Office, located in the Usdan University Center, 45 Wyllys Avenue, Middletown. Tickets may also be purchased at the door beginning one hour prior to the performance, subject to availability. The Center for the Arts accepts cash, checks written to “Wesleyan University”, and all major credit cards. Groups of ten or more may receive a discount – please call (860) 685-3355 for details. No refunds, cancellations, or exchanges.

About Leigh Fondakowski
Leigh Fondakowski has been a member of Tectonic Theatre Project since 1995. She is an Emmy nominated co-screenwriter for the adaptation of The Laramie Project for HBO. Time magazine had described The Laramie Project as "a pioneering work and a powerful stage event." The People’s Temple has been performed under her direction at Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Perseverance Theater, and The Guthrie Theater, and received the Glickman Award for best new play in 2005. Another original play, I Think I Like Girls, premiered at Encore Theater in San Francisco under her direction and was voted one of the top 10 plays of 2002 by The Advocate. Leigh is a 2007 recipient of the NEA/TCG Theatre Residency Program for Playwrights and a 2009 Macdowell Colony Fellow. She is a visiting artist and an Imagine Fund fellow at the University of Minnesota, and has recently written a new play about 19th century American actress Charlotte Cushman.

About Reeva Wortel
Reeva Wortel is an interdisciplinary artist who creates narrative portrait-based projects that combine interview, social commentary, performance and large-scale installation. Driven by a commitment to develop the technique of portraiture beyond its traditional limits, Ms. Wortel has worked in communities as a social justice advocate and artist honing a technique to narrate the individual stories of our time through her portraiture work, a process that involves in-depth interviewing, photography, painting and installation. Ms. Wortel has been the recipient of several grants as a muralist, choreographer and installation artist. She has exhibited her work in Oregon, Colorado, California, New York, New Zealand and Amsterdam.

About Feet to the Fire
In September 2011, Wesleyan University presented Professor of Theater Ronald Jenkins' work Recycling Pain, commissioned by the Center for the Arts based on his work in connection with the annual environmental awareness program Feet to the Fire, and this year's theme of Fueling the Future.

Launched in 2008, Feet to the Fire is a major undertaking on Wesleyan’s campus to examine critical environmental issues through multiple lenses, from science to art. The program is dedicated to the proposition that a multidisciplinary examination that includes art will provide a more comprehensive and deeper understanding of these global issues. Feet to the Fire includes lectures, performances, co-taught teaching modules, and courses by the faculty, visiting artists and lecturers, student run fora, community eco-arts festivals, afterschool programs for children, and the First Year Matters program. Each year, the campus adopts an environmental theme for its First Year Matters program, such as global climate change (2008), water (2009), or hunger (2010). The theme for 2011, Fueling the Future, has been focused on issues related to energy.

Other Feet to the Fire works have included exhibitions and performances by visiting artists including Asphalt Orchestra's Trading Futures, Marion Belanger's Landfill, Ann Carlson's Green Movement, Barbara Croall's Messages (Mijidwewinan), Cassie Meador's Drift, and Stan's Cafe's Of All the People in All the World, USA (The Rice Show); as well as works by faculty including Hari Krishnan's Liquid Shakti, Ronald Kuivila's The Weather, at Six, Alvin Lucier's Glacier, and Nicole Stanton and Gina Ulysse's Threshold Sites: Skin to Skin.

The Feet to the Fire initiative was launched with a leadership grant from Arts Presenters Creative Campus Innovations Program, a component of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, which was one of only eight grants given to challenge campus-based performing arts presenters to integrate their programs more organically within the academic environment. Feet to the Fire is made possible in part by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

For more information about Feet to the Fire, please visit http://www.wesleyan.edu/creativecampus/crossingdisciplines/feettothefire/

For more information about First Year Matters, please visit http://www.wesleyan.edu/fym/

About the Performing Arts Series
The Performing Arts Series at the Center for the Arts brings a wide array of world-class musicians, cutting-edge choreography, and groundbreaking theater performances and discussions to Wesleyan University.

This season's performances include the Lionel Loueke Trio (February 25), SPILL (February 25 & 26), the 13th annual DanceMasters Weekend Showcase Performance (March 10), the Connecticut premiere of Chunky Move: Connected (March 30 & 31), the Fernando Otero Quartet (April 14), and the 11th annual Wesleyan Jazz Orchestra Weekend featuring the Jay Hoggard Quartet (April 28). For more information, please visit http://www.wesleyan.edu/cfa.
Save 10% when you buy tickets to four or more Performing Arts Series events. Save 15% when you buy tickets to six or more Performing Arts Series events. Call or visit the Wesleyan University Box Office at (860) 685-3355 to take advantage of these discounts.