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The Unreal City Trilogy

A Work-in-progress

An original devised work that explores the beauty, poetry, and fragility of the desert, the reality of water shortage, and the prospect of Phoenix becoming one of the largest ghost towns in the world when our water supply runs out–Phoenix as a mirage.

Unreal City:Concept/ Artistic Intervention
If you wander through the Arizona desert from town to town, one notices an abundance of an unusual phenomenon—ghost towns. Scattered throughout the Arizona landscape are abandoned towns and dwellings that once prospered. Arizona has over 450 ghost towns, more than any other state in the United States. Now, their fragmented remains echo and remind us of life that once filled these spaces.  The one common thread that links these abandoned dwellings is the reality that resources ran out and living in these locations was no longer sustainable or even possible. They are haunting reminders of what happens when resources vanish and one is forced to relocate in order to survive. 

                                     Transfix performed by Logan Phillips at Gleeson Mine, Cochise County. 
                                       October 2010. Photographs by Glenn Weyant and Adam Cooper-Terán.

There are predictions that there is a one hundred year lifeline of water left in Phoenix. What happens when that runs out? Without water, Phoenix could be the largest ghost town on the planet as urban dwellers flee to find resources. Phoenix could be understood as a mirage and entirely unrealistic in terms of long-term sustainability. As the urban sprawl continues to expand in every direction, these already limited resources are stretched to a tipping point. While the idea of Phoenix as a ghost town is inherently apocalyptic, it could become a reality if measures are not made in the near future to protect the fragility of our water supply.

                                                Photographs of Gleeson Mine by Rachel Bowditch and Glenn Weyant. October 2010. 

While one could easily read the facts and spreadsheets that indicate this impending water shortage, this project approaches this topic through a visual, somatic, sonic, and theatrical investigation that both celebrates the beauty of the desert and its unique ecosystem as well as expose the inherent threat to life in this place and the rapidly diminishing resources.
Starting with Japanese playwright/director Ota Shogo’s The Station Trilogy as a jumping off point, the rich non-verbal script offers of point of departure to investigate the complexity of water shortage in a poetic, non-literal way.

                                  Transfix performed by Rachel Bowditch and Logan Phillips at Gleeson Hospital.
                                                                   October 2010. Photographs by Glenn Weyant.

In The Water Station, nine travelers move in a glacial pace across a bridge. The only scenery is a broken faucet center stage. The sound of dripping water underscores the entire piece but is constantly undulating
and changing. The travelers interact with the water--touching it, drinking from it, bathing in it -- changing the sound of the water each time. These figures are in transit, moving with all of their worldly possessions from an unknown location to an unknown destination—there is a tremendous sense of loss, longing, and desire. I envision between episodes flashes of video of the ghost towns, perhaps fragments of poetry - nothing concrete—impressions and traces. The simple metaphor of a broken water faucet center stage speaks volumes about the complexity of sustainability, border crossings, and living in the desert, without using a single word.

Transfix performed by Rachel Bowditch and Logan Phillips at Gleeson Mine. October 2010. Photographs by Glenn Weyant.

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