NEW WORLD PERFORMANCE LAB DELVES INTO AKRON’S RELATIONSHIP WITH RUBBER
World Premiere of New Work about Akron and Rubber
Akron, OH –New World Performance Laboratory (NWPL) presents “Death of a Man” the first part of the company’s The Devil’s Milk Trilogy, a performance project based on Akron’s relationship with rubber. Performances will be held Thursday, Friday and Saturday, March 30, 31, April 1, 6, 7, 8, 2017 at 8pm and Sunday, April 2 and 9 2017 at 2pm in The Balch Street Theatre, 220 South Balch Street, Akron Oh, 44302. Tickets are $15 general and $10 for students. Attendance is very limited. For information and reservations call 330-867-3299 or online at http://devilsmilk.bpt.me Each performance will be followed by an audience engagement session. The Devil’s Milk Trilogy is funded in part by a grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, as part of its Knight Akron Arts Challenge.
“Death of a Man” is a solo performance conceived by and featuring Colombian actor, long-time Akron resident, and NWPL Co-Artistic Director Jairo Cuesta, and directed by University of Akron theatre professor and NWPL co-artistic director James Slowiak. In this moving evocation of the jungles of the Amazon where countless indigenous men, women, and children were mutilated and massacred in the mad search for natural rubber, Cuesta seeks to lead the public on a quest for the sources of a city’s sorrow. Through his virtuosic physical and vocal skills, Cuesta enacts a ritual of storytelling, a sacrifice to heal the city by confronting the violence and blood on which the city is built. “Death of a Man” is an attempt at authentic intercultural understanding by reengaging the past and bringing it alive in the present. The performance is not meant to sentimentalize the story or merely invoke empathy, but to interrogate, criticize, and empower by opening a dialogue between text, past, present, performer, and audience. The performance event is based loosely on John Tully’s book, “The Devil’s Milk: A Social History of Rubber,” along with other historical and fictional sources. Cuesta and Slowiak traveled to the Amazon in 2016 where they engaged in meetings with members of the indigenous community represented in the performance. This intercultural exchange was made possible, in part, through a grant from the Network of Ensemble Theaters’ Travel & Exchange Network (NET/TEN), supported by lead funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.
NWPL began to devise “The Devil’s Milk Trilogy” in intensive two-week work sessions between March 2015 and December 2016. Each work session culminated in an open rehearsal and talkback session with the public. “Goosetown: The Devil’s Milk, Part 2” and “Industrial Valley: The Devil’s Milk, Part 3” will begin performances in April and May 2017 at the company’s home base, The Balch Street Theatre, 220 South Balch Street in Akron. Each part of the trilogy stands on its own as a performance event and takes on a very distinct theatrical form and style, providing a stimulus and forum for a frank discussion about the city and the rubber that shaped it. A seed grant from The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation helped pay for artists’ stipends during the development process and allowed NWPL to offer ensemble members and local theatre artists the opportunity to refine their craft. Further funding for the project has come from the Char and Chuck Fowler Family Foundation, The Akron Community Foundation, and Ohio Arts Council.
NWPL is an internationally acclaimed ensemble of theatre artists that has been active in Northeastern Ohio since 1992. Since taking up residence at The Balch Street Theatre in 2011, NWPL has produced a number of exceptional productions including “Virginia Woolf’s ORLANDO” and “Gilgamesh: He Who Saw Everything” as well as hosting various theatre companies such as Studium Teatralne from Poland, TAPIT Theatre Ensemble from Madison, WI, Akropolis Performance Lab from Seattle, and Akron’s Ma’Sue Productions. NWPL spearheads numerous community projects, training sessions, educational programs, and performances throughout the region, nationally, and internationally.
CATAC/NWPL: James Slowiak, email@example.com, 330-867-3299