New World Performance Laboratory (NWPL) presents preview performances of its work-in-progress, “Industrial Valley” the third part of “The Devil’s Milk Trilogy,” a long-term project based on Akron’s relationship with rubber and the rubber industry on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Monday October 20, 21 22, 24 2016 at 8:00 pm and Sunday, Oct. 23 at 2 p.m. in The Balch Street Theatre, located at 220 S. Balch St., in Akron. For information and reservations call (330) 867-3299 or industrialvalley.brownpapertickets.com. Each preview performance will be followed by an audience talkback session. Admission is $10.
“Industrial Valley” is an ensemble-devised theatre performance based on one-time Beacon Journal reporter Ruth McKenney’s acclaimed 1939 account of class and industrial conflict in Akron, Ohio. NWPL, under the direction of co-artistic director and University of Akron theatre professor James Slowiak, brings to life Depression-era Akron and the labor movement. Malcolm Cowley called McKenney’s historical novel “the best American example of proletarian literature.” The preview performances of “Industrial Valley: The Devil’s Milk, Part 3,” provide the public with a rare view of NWPL’s working process and the birth of a company-created performance with music, songs, dances, and stories inspired by Akron’s rubber workers. The NWPL acting ensemble consists of co-artistic director Jairo Cuesta and long-time company members and Akron residents Debora Totti, Justin Hale, and Chris Buck, with apprentices Rosilyn Jentner, Robert Keith, and Kyra Kelley. The performers’ work is supported by resident costume designer Inda Blatch-Geib, resident set designer/technician Kirsten Williams, resident lighting designer/technical director Chris Hariasz, and media designer/videographer Dave Cranston.
NWPL, in conjunction with the Center for Applied Theatre and Active Culture (CATAC), has been developing “The Devil’s Milk Trilogy” since 2015. “Death of a Man: The Devil’s Milk, Part 1” premiered in February 2016 as a solo performance featuring Jairo Cuesta. “Goosetown: The Devil’s Milk, Part 2” written and composed by Akron native JT Buck, will have preview performances in December 2016. The entire trilogy is planned to begin performances in early 2017 at the company’s home base, The Balch Street Theatre. 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. NWPL’s “Devil’s Milk Trilogy” is a finalist in the Knight Foundation’s Arts Challenge Akron. Funding for the project has also been received from the Char and Chuck Fowler Family Foundation, Akron Community Foundation, and Ohio Arts Council.
About CATAC and NWPL
CATAC serves as the administrative umbrella for NWPL, 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, CATAC has produced a number of exceptional NWPL productions including “Virginia Woolf’s ORLANDO” and “Gilgamesh: He Who Saw Everything” as well as hosting various theatre companies such as Studium Teatralne (Poland), TAPIT Theatre Ensemble (Madison, WI), Akropolis Performance Lab (Seattle) and Akron’s Ma’Sue Productions. CATAC/NWPL spearheads numerous community projects, training sessions, educational programs, and performances throughout the region, nationally, and internationally.
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