It's been four years since Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast. Its causes and ramifications, though, extend much farther into both the past and the future. So say Alixa Garcia and Naima Penniman, Brooklyn-based spoken-word and multimedia artists known together as Climbing Poetree, who will present their latest work, "Hurricane Season: The Hidden Messages in Water," to three audiences in Maine next week.
Thanks to the coordinating efforts of Defending Water for Life in Maine and activist Emily Posner, groups at Colby and Bowdoin colleges, and at the Unity Center for Performing Arts, will have the chance to see Climbing Poetree perform what Garcia describes as "part-show, part-organizing strategy."
The first half of the production finds the duo using spoken word, video and animation work, dance, and shadow puppetry to address such themes as global warming, terrorism, prisons, and housing. Throughout, they use water as a metaphor for both collective memory and healing. There is a spiritual focus. But theirs isn't a head-in-the-clouds hippie-fest. It's a well-produced program (with six years of touring under their belts, Garcia and Penniman know what works) that concludes with a group discussion with local organizations to talk about concrete solutions.
"After the show, people were so inspired," Garcia says on the phone from New York about past performances that addressed topics such as single mothers, or the war on drugs. "We needed something tangible and local that people could really plug into" to take next steps. Hence the collaboration with local activists, even ones as far away as Maine.
"What happened in New Orleans — we see it as a microcosm of what's happening in neighborhoods around the country," she says.
Watch the trailer and learn more atClimbingPoetree.com orHurricaneSeasonTour.com.
Tuesday, September 15 @ 7 pm | Bowdoin College, Kresge Auditorium, Brunswick | Thursday, September 17 @ 7 pm | Unity Centre for the Performing Arts | 42 Depot St, Unity | Saturday, September 19 @ 7 pm | Colby College, Page Commons, Waterville | Tickets are $10-25 on a sliding scale; call 207.930.5232 for more information.