Play Highlights the Human Side of the BP Spill

Jun 1, 2012

Eric Mayer Garcia met playwright Caridad Svich at a conference and decided he should bring 'The Way of the Water' to Louisiana for the first time. (Tegan Wendland/WRKF)

Actors, directors and theater groups all over the country are marking the anniversary of the BP oil spill this spring with a play. ‘The Way of the Water" focuses on the aftermath of 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill. It was written by an award-winning playwright and will be performed by a group of volunteers in Baton Rouge this weekend. WRKF's Tegan Wendland talked with local Director and doctoral theater student at LSU, Eric Mayer Garcia, about why he thought it was important to bring the play to Louisiana for the first time.The performance will be Saturday, June 1 at The Red Shoes Center for Personal & Spiritual Growth, 2303 Government St. Donations are welcome.


WENDLAND: What do you think really inspired the playwright, Caridad Svich?

GARCIA: My impression is that it kind of goes along with the mission statement for her theater company, NoPassport theatre alliance. It's "committed to interventionist actions through theater-making and culture towards peace, healing, forgiveness and resistance to uncivil actions."

WENDLAND: So you actually brought the play with you today. Could you give us an example of a line or a scene that people might find particularly moving?

GARCIA: Sure. This is a scene where Yuki and Jimmy are fishing and Yuki just found out that one of the local kids had died swimming because he was exposed to some toxins in the water, so the community has decided to put together a protest and Yuki tells Jimmy about it and he feels that it's going to ultimately have no effect. This is Jimmy's response:

‘The poor kid passes on and what, you think ‘Big Pig' is gonna pay for his burial because of some protest? Integrity and respect for human life is a joke to them - a cruel, insignificant joke. Man, they'll come up with some story make it seem like he was on meth or something, they ain't got nothing to do with nothing. Like they don't even know what kind of chemical they used.'

WENDLAND: Thank you. It sounds like the piece provides a social commentary on the spill - it's described as a two act play that "focuses on poverty in American and the devastation of the ongoing health and environmental focus in the gulf region." What do you think people might take away from watching it?

GARCIA: I hope they will see how this particular issue speaks to a lot of what's going on in the United States today with working people. It really talks about how, I mean, the spill happens and that's really the impetus for all of the horrible things that happen to Jimmy but as a small fisherman he doesn't have, for instance, health care insurance, so that exacerbates their economic situation. It's also due to the lack of being able to catch fish due to the oil spill - they're having economic problems in his household. Behind this there's this giant corporation, BP, that these characters who don't really have a lot of agency in the play want to hold accountable.

WENDLAND: So there's only a handful of cities in states directly impacted by the spill performing this play - do you think there's a reason for that? Could it be because the play is awfully controversial?

GARCIA: I'm not sure if it's because of the controversy...yeah, I don't know. Maybe here, a little closer to the source where people who were directly affected by the spill, you know people are going to be more sensitive about it, I've thought about that, but I think it's even more important for us to mark this event, this disaster, and what happened.

WENDLAND: Thanks a lot for coming in.

GARCIA: Thanks for having me.