SSU Takes the Plunge Into "Water Works"

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Plays will range from traditional, fully scripted presentations to those created by theatre students through oral histories with local community members.

Water Works offers students, faculty, staff, and community members a full interdisciplinary experience. From English to environmental studies, from geology to anthropology, the ultimate goal is to make the University a kind of theater, a gathering place for ritual and democratic engagement with the topic of inland water.

Performing arts exhibitions in the 2012-13 academic year include seven productions on the theme of water by the departments of Theatre Arts & Dance and Music, from contemporary dance works by guest artists, faculty choreographers, and students, to plays and operas using the water theme as science, metaphor and community engagement.

Scientific and policy lectures on water resources, planning, and management are being made available to the public. Faculty from across campus, as well as expert guest lecturers, are devoting lectures and entire courses to the exploration of inland water flow as a locus of political and social interaction, as well as a site of imagination and memory.

"Water is a fundamental need that many of us take for granted. This series of events reopens awareness and appreciation of a substance that touches every part of our lives" said Claudia Luke, Director of the SSU Field Stations & Nature Preserves.

This is an exciting new way for SSU to engage and collaborate with local communities, said Luke. "This year-long event opens the doors of classrooms, lecture halls and performance venues that are exploring issues and ideas about water."

Highlights of the season include:

"Sustainability in Our World" Lecture Series (Aug. 29-Nov. 13) - Beginning with the first lecture on Aug. 29 (1-2 p.m. in Warren Auditorium with "An Introduction to Watersheds"), this series explores wide-ranging issues of environmental sustainability through specific issues within the Russian River watershed. Open to the public as part of a two-semester course sequence for first-time freshmen, immersing them in real-world issues of environmental sustainability.

Bad Penny by Mac Wellman (Oct. 3-14)- A whimsical and mind-bending theatrical experience where actors shout dialogue to each other across a lake, while closer to the audience, they share their current bad luck and their more gruesome pasts. A rare and unusual opportunity to revive this beautiful one-act about the mythic and metaphorical power of water presented by the Department of Theatre Arts & Dance.

A Little Tea and Apathy? (Mid-October) - Advanced ceramics students will create a performance-based installation on campus, in collaboration with the Department of Theatre Arts & Dance, reviving the 2010 work "A Little Tea and Apathy" on the graduation lawn, with up to 20 dancers who will be performing while drenched in "slip" (liquified clay). As the dance progresses, water evaporates from the slip, so the dancers' appearance transforms from that of glistening statuary to chalky ghost figures.

Sonoma Film Institute (November) - SFI features two films that explore inland water flow. Jean Renoir's American film about Texas tenant farmers trying to survive against the elements, "The Southerner," will be shown Nov. 9, 11. Oscar winner Jessica Yu's documentary on the urgency of the dwindling fresh water supply, "Last Call at the Oasis," will be shown Nov. 16, 18. Both are screened in Warren Auditorium. See

Spring events include:

Water-themed art exhibits featuring Bay Area artists and New Media students experimenting with sound and time in the University Art Gallery.

The Copeland Creek Project /A Theatrical Journey - an interview-based ensemble piece based on oral histories developed from those who live near the creek and have been shaped by that experience.

For more information about "Water Works," visit or contact Jean Wasp, Marketing and Media Relations Coordinator, (707) 664-2057.