Ever since I spent a day playing on the (docked) tugboat Jupiter with my friend Chris Doyle several years ago, I have been dreaming about making a piece using that boat. She is a beauty, a 110-year-old tug, sturdy and graceful at the same time. I imagine audience members exploring the tiny spaces of the tug, uncovering images and stories, “Sleep No More”-style, while Jupiter chugs along the Delaware River.
Most of all, I want to give Philadelphians a bodily experience of the Delaware River. Much has been written about our disconnection from it. Greenworks, from the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, reports:
“The Delaware River is Philadelphia’s historic trade route and the center of its original settlements and commercial centers. Over the years the waterfront became disconnected from the main fabric of the city, particularly since the construction of Interstate 95, which effectively cut the river off from the rest of Philadelphia. For decades, efforts to rejoin the city to the waterfront have failed. “
Most of the City’s recent efforts to reconnect Philadelphia to its waterfront are bricks and mortar efforts, including the most recent master plan. I want to create something experiential, giving audiences a direct and physical experience of the river. The same feeling I have when I visit my mother in Maine, where on a foggy morning you might just hop into a row boat and take a little jaunt around Greenlaw Cove, while lobstermen haul up traps nearby and a schooner makes her way across the Eggemoggin Reach.
IMAGE: Standing on the tugboat’s deck, you peer into a porthole at three sailors moving in slow motion. Below deck, an accordion plays. Engines roar.
I want to make a piece that will bring audiences to the tugboat and to the river for a performance, weaving stories, music, movement, and video into an immersive journey on a river most of us see but never touch. Stay tuned!