in association with
Dance Theater Workshop
By MARTY POTTENGER
January 8 – 24, 2004 at Dance Theater Workshop, www.dtw.org
Directed and Choreographed by MARTY POTTENGER & STEVE BAILEY
Dramaturgy TALVIN WILKS
Music TERRY DAME
Lighting Design SUSAN HAMBURGER
Costumes MARTIN LOPEZ
Set MIMI LIEN
Public Relations PUBLICITY OUTFITTERS
Cary Barker – Herb Downer – Joe Gioco – Thom Rivera – Nikki E. Walker
The wealth in and of the United States is abundant, but not equally distributed. There are great disparities between the wealthiest and poorest among us, just as there is a vast difference between being poor in the United States and poor in a country like India. There are many statistics floating around that point out the seemingly frivolous ways in which we, as a nation, spend, and perhaps even waste our abundant fiscal resources. These, and many other tidbits can be gleaned by attending a performance of the multi-media play ABUNDANCE, brainchild of Marty Pottenger, wherein the audience is bombarded by data, personal dramas, and narratives focused squarely and politically on this thing we call our economy.
According to the literature for ABUNDANCE, Ms. Pottenger spent three years interviewing multi-millionaires and minimum wage workers from across the United States, and gathered further material from a yearlong New York civil dialogue group with participants whose own financial situations ran the gamut. These resources were richly mined as material for this play. Though the final product feels confessional, like an economic LARAMIE PROJECT where we are all simultaneously victim and perpetrator, yet ultimately manipulated into action by some greater culprit called money, the format itself is a structurally appropriate choice for the type of play that Ms. Pottenger has penned.
In the course, or more appropriately, the discourse of ABUNDANCE, we are presented with three different but thematically linked narratives. There are the participants of the dialogue group, portrayed as a coming together of individuals of disparate backgrounds yet rather passionate feelings about funds. We meet a dying billionaire, Laz, (Joe Gioco) and his servant of decades, Job (Herb Downer). Finally, we are schooled in statistics by two sanitation workers (Thom Rivera, Herb Downer). The latter theme is the most direct and succinctly realized of the bunch, even as we are being more or less lectured to. There are some interesting characters found at the focus group, but near the end that starts to feel like a revivalist meeting. So, it is perhaps the scenes between Laz and Job that feel most like a play fighting to get out from behind all of the numbers and economic woes.
Largely a work that preaches to the converted, ABUNDANCE is ambitious and nicely executed. It has a definite point of view about economic inequity that is voiced rather heartily by several characters. I do not see the play changing minds on a grand scale, but it is the type of work that spurs debate.
- Kessa De Santis -