Scene4 Magazine-reView

May 2011

Scene4 Magazine: "Walking on the Edge of Water" reviewed by Ned Bobkoff May 2011

by Ned Bobkoff

No matter how much warning is given, an earthquake is just that, and a nuclear reactor getting out of control following an earthquake , or a tsumami churning a giant wave of roiling water washing away people and towns, are compelling catastrophic events on TV. You can't help but think, can it happen here? 

In the continuous reporting on CNN of the tsunami diaster, and it's (now) "massive decontamination efforts", there was no mention of the U.S. dropping atomic bombs on Japan.  An obvious association for a people who experienced nuclear disaster in the past, and the radioactive devastation that followed. So much for the the associative historical markers that link us to the Japanese people. No matter how "justified"  the dropping of atom bombs on Japan was rationalized as ending the war with Japan, atomic energy on the loose, for whatever reason, engenders acceptance of natural and unnatural disasters as being one of the same. They are not one and the same, and no one has a headstart on washing their hands of the matter.  

The beleagued and desperate people on the coast of Japan, looking for their loved ones, searching through the trash, or the remains of their homes, while a quiescent government and corporative officials,shifted takes on the ground of silence is reminescent of the silence of BP executives in the face of the Gulf Coast oil spill disaster. Many of whom have now been given raises. Can you imaqine that? Coverups are practiced by governments and corporations alike, and some politicians and executives know how to play that game well. The scripture for many people in power are like sticky notes on the refrigerator.  Pull off what you need, when you can, in order to make up for lost time and make more money for your backers.  

"Walking At The Edge of Water", a theatrical metamorphis of aquatic dance associations on the necessity and fragility of fresh, clean water, conceived by indigenous choreographer Rulan Tangen, was staged recently at the Indigenous Performance Initiative at the NOZHEM theater's First Peoples Performance Space at Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario. I saw the production just before the Japanese disaster.


"Walking At The Edge of Water "was divided into 12 scenes.  Opening with a From Otter to Global Warming, a "spiritual" mime, the scenes unfolded into a theatrical travelogue of acquatic reflections. Titles were used up front like vaudeville cards; from Animal Battles for Water; Otonabee Offerings of Planting and Receiving;  Agua Reflections;  Messages ("I won't be here forever, please take care of me");  Water Carriers (the obligations of saving fresh, clean  water for the unborn);  Little People (kindness and wonder dwell with the natural miracle of fresh water);  and Industry (methodical, mechanical and rigid forms of work that leave workers doing the dirty work of cleaning up behind the contamination of watrer); Desire and Drilling (what will we do if there is little or no clean water left?); From Hiding in the Reeds to Growing Strong as Trees (stages of growth and maturity in the face of possible disaster) ; Purification (throwing off the old self for the sake of renewal);  and Walking On The Edge (will we return to competitively scooping water for survival? ).

Not all of the theatrical jumping off place was infused with disaster. Embedded in the dance drama  was the reflection on the necessity of clean fresh water. Life is fragile. When faced with the further pollution and destruction of our water sources, whether it be natural or nuclear disasters, walking on the edge of water is not  a newspaper headline, or  a television "special"' of maybes and possibilities. Nor is the Japanese desperate attempt to water down nuclear facilities  a "success". A success? How so? In what sense is this frightening occurance of weakened nuclear faciltiies and possible radioactive pollution a success?  It is at best a lingering stand off - for how long?


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©2011 Ned Bobkoff
©2011 Publication Scene4 Magazine

Playwright, director, and teacher, Ned Bobkoff has worked with performers from all walks of life in a variety of cultural and community settings throughout the U.S., Canada and abroad.
For more of his commentary and articles, check the Archives


Scene4 Magazine - Arts and Media

May 2011

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