Water conservation isn’t just a California problem — starting Thursday, a series of talks and tours will bring attention to East Williamsburg’s English Kills, one of the most polluted sections of Newtown Creek.
“The Bellagio Experience,” developed by Concrete Temple Theatre, revolves around a play, “The Bellagio Fountain Has Been Known to Make Me Cry,” about a mother and a daughter whose Florida house sits atop a sinkhole. Even as water, rendered with rolls and strands of paper, gradually takes over the stage, mom and daughter are oblivious to their predicament until they’re clued in by a plumber whose wife died in a flash flood. Water, water, everywhere.
“Once it became clear that water would be such an important part of the play, we thought it was important to go to communities within New York that had the ascertained water trouble,” said Renee Philippi, the playwright and co-founder of Concrete Temple Theater. So it’ll be performed in venues located near historically significant bodies of water (among other things, Newtown Creek was occupied by Lord Cornwallis and General Howe during the Revolution and it’s where Peter Cooper’s Jell-O gelatin was first manufactured) that, to this day, have remarkably high levels of pollution. After the four-day stint at English Kills, the production will have an encore this fall near the Gowanus Canal.
This installment of the Bellagio Experience will include a walking tour of English Kills led by historian Mitch Waxman, the blogger behind Newtown Pentacle and an active member of the Newtown Creek Alliance. His tour of the “insalubrious valley” will visit a highly industrial area to which roughly 30 to 40 percent of NYC’s garbage is trucked every day as well as a waterway where toilets in Bushwick and Canarsie potentially flush into when it’s raining.
Robyn Smyth, a scientist, professor at Bard College, and the play’s de-facto fact-checker, will also lead a discussion on water resource challenges and the way they’re exacerbated by climate change.
Here’s a run-down of the upcoming events.
Thursday, April 30 – Sunday, May 3 (Free admission, no reservation required)
Lobby Photography Exhibition: Stefan Hagen: Three Walks at the Atlantic
On view Thursday and Friday 6pm – 9:30pm, Saturday 1pm – 4:30pm and 6pm – 9:30pm, Sunday 1pm – 4:30pm. Visit http://StefanHagenPhotography.com to view Hagen’s work.
Saturday, May 2, 1pm – 2:30pm ($15 per person, meet at Studio 301 at English Kills)
“An Insalubrious Valley”: A walk along Newtown Creek and its tributaries with Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman
Saturday, May 2, 6:30pm – 7:30pm (Free admission)
Two Talks: “Newtown Creek: The Destruction and Hope of a Wall-in Waterway” with Dr. Sarah E. Durand and “The English Kills Project” with Henry G. Sanchez
Sunday, May 3, 1:30pm – 2:30pm (Free admission)
A Discussion of Water Resources from Newtown Creek to NYC and Beyond with Professor Robyn Smyth (Center for Environmental Policy, Bard College)