NET/TEN Shareback: New World Performance Laboratory - Searching for the Sources

Fall 2015 Travel Grant Recipient

Jairo Cuesta and James Slowiak of New World Performance Laboratory (Akron, OH) met with Fundacion Varasanta Teatro (Bogota, Colombia) to share techniques in devising theatre events that concern indigenous populations of Colombia. These sessions prepared Slowiak and Cuesta for a trip to the Amazon region to engage in dialogue with the Uitoto tribe concerning oral tradition, embodiment, and cultural reverberations of the exploitation by the rubber industry.


Jairo Cuesta of New World Performance Laboratory has created a short documentary, Searching for the Sources, which describes the journey he and James Slowiak took to Colombia and the Amazon to meet with the Bogota-based theatre ensemble, Varasanta, and the indigenous Uitoto community. This expedition served as research for the company’s performance “Death of a Man: The Devil’s Milk, Part 1,” a project about Akron, Ohio, and its relationship with rubber and the rubber industry. 

The Devil's Milk Part 1 "Death of a Man" from 24K Media Group on Vimeo.

A Guide for our Process and Lessons Learned

1. Because the time between the grant proposal deadline and the positive answer to the proposal is about 2-3 months, be ready for changes in your partners' circumstances. In ensembles, very often the dynamics of  the company can change suddenly and you need to be prepared for any eventuality. 

2. Have personal contacts in the place you are going, in case new circumstances appear. Have meetings with theatre practitioners who have experience in the field. These relationships could be of great importance for the continuation of the project. 

3. If your partners are located in remote areas of the country you are visiting, be ready for any eventuality (lack of electricity, lack of transportation, need for special clothing and basic health requirements, safety of your equipment, etc.) 

4. Be sure to know the language of your partners and the cultural differences. Be courteous, discrete, and have a great sense of humor. 

5.  Stay focused on your project and yet use your special attention to catch any new possibilities appearing on the outside of your normal field of attention. 

6. Your guides might be surprising. Leave open the possibilities for new encounters. 

7. Some experiences need to stay in your heart. Don't try to explain everything to others. The experience will lose its power. 

8. When you come back, continue the work but don't lose your connection to the poetic side of your experience.

9. In the end, it's about "to see, to listen, and to meet," three basic human actions that require a lifetime to refine and deepen while forming the core of an actor's work.


KnightBlog - Open rehearsal for New World Performance Laboratory's "The Devil's Milk Trilogy" generated good audience feeback

Akron.comNWPL’s ‘Death of a Man’ examines story of rubber

Monthly ReviewThe Devil’s Milk Trilogy: Theater from Akron’s New World Performance Laboratory





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Monday, July 18, 2016

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