FALLING OUT is the final installment in Phantom Limb Company’s multi-disciplinary environmental trilogy, creating theatrical and emotional calls to agency around climate crisis. Conceived and directed by visual artist and Phantom Limb Artistic Director Jessica Grindstaff, the story of FALLING OUT pivots on the myriad environmental ramifications of the 2011 tsunami that struck the Fukushima Daini Nuclear Power Plant in Japan.
This live theatrical performance, which will tour nationally in 2017-2018, features an ensemble of actor/dancer/puppeteers performing to an evocative and complex original musical score by composer Erik Sanko. Through music, we will be identifying places and cultures where the relationship to water is critical – either in lack of or impending rises. The music of the Vanuatu women water drumming, the music of New Orleans, Traditional Tahitian music, and Okinawan will be sonically woven and layered into the narrative so that the audience feels immersed in the soundscape, as if they were swimming in a global environment. A key element of the development of this piece is travel to Japan to record natural sounds, portions of interviews and recordings of traditional folk music from the Fukushima region which will all be interwoven into the score for the piece.We are also researching the science of radiation in order to find a way to identify it musically.
Chanteuse Jennifer Charles (of Elysian Fields) and Erik Sanko will give voice to the metaphoric female and male characters in the play, bringing the theoretical effigies of the future into the present world. In both consonance and dissonance, our future selves navigate the uncertain seas of relationship both to one another and to our ever-shifting environment.
Into our musical exploration we will weave concrete stories of a romantic break up (or a falling out) as a metaphor for the loss of deep connection we once had to the earth. Crinoline mountains moving slowly across the stage by invisible forces will serve as the physical manifestations of water and radiation. The end result will be a beautiful and meditative piece of theater that will seep into the consciousness of our audiences to ignite in them an emotional call to action.
With this production, Phantom Limb will continue to deepen our practice of non-verbal storytelling through puppetry, design installation, music, and dance. This hybrid performance form will allow us access to a new emotional well from which we can cast light upon our connection to and responsibility toward water and the environment.
We know from our past work that the best way to awaken people to these topics is through poetry and storytelling. The abundance of data and empirical evidence supporting the rapid onset of climate change has done little to impact human behavior. It is, we believe, up to the artists to find new ways to broach the topic. We are confident that this production will creatively redefine the limits of the various art forms it employs, ultimately helping to change public discourse around climate change.