Leigh Fondakowski: SPILL


SPILL is a new play and visual installation created by playwright Leigh Fondakowski and visual artist Reeva Wortel inspired by the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the largest environmental disaster in U.S. history. The play is based in part on interviews with the people of the Gulf Coast of Lousiana in the wake of the spill. The visual installation is a dramatic display of life-sized painted portraits of the interviewees. The artists have been interviewing since March 2011, talking with people across the political spectrum - from Tea Party Republicans to life-long environmental conservationists, families who lost their loved ones in the explosion of the rig, cleanup workers, as well as politicians and members of the diverse fishing communities along the coast.

SPILL recounts the dramatic story of the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig and the subsequent impact on the estuary and marine life, but also takes a close look at the people, the history, the culture, and the environmental complexities and crises of Louisiana. The play and installation explores the true human and environmental cost of oil. Wesleyan presented the first public showing of the art installation along with a choral reading of the play on February 25 and 26, 2012.

This project was originally commissioned by the Center for the Arts at Wesleyan University with additional support from the Institute for Advanced Studies at the University of Minnesota. The play and installation are being developed in association with The Study Group.


About Leigh Fondakowski

Leigh Fondakowski was the Head Writer of The Laramie Project and 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, and a co-writer of The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later. Her play, The People’s Temple, has been performed under her direction at Berkeley Repertory Theatre, American Theater Company, and The Guthrie Theater, and received the Glickman Award for Best New Play in the Bay Area 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, 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, a process that involves in-depth interviewing, photography, painting, and installation. 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.

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