The new piece of environmental theatre, called Peripheral City: Rediscovering The Gowanus Canal, is presented by Red Dive, a seven year-old collective of dance and theatre artists. Red Dive specialized in site-specific theatrics which have taken place in such locales as the Clemente Soto Veleze Cultural Center on the Lower East Side and an oil-changing pit in a garage in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. For Peripheral City, Marilys Ernst logged 25 hours of interviews with residents, merchants and others who live and work around the Gowanus Canal. The canal was once a busy waterway, chock full of boats and barges, but it declined following the 1950s after the Brooklyn waterfront fell into disuse. For the past few decades, the canal has become a byword for pollution, disease and crime (Mafia victims are rumored to rest at the bottom). Only recently, with the reopening of a channel flushing system, has the Gowanus slowly begun to spring back to life (the fetid smell has abated and sea creatures are now sometimes spotted).
The play will take 16 audience members on a pontoon boat down the canal for "a cohesive, episodic, documentary-style voyage." Tales of the area will be amplified over a sound system while Red Dive performers enact dramas on nearby streets and under bridges. The work promises to capture "the paradoxes of the Canal in a transitional state between neglect and renewal."
Tours run hourly from noon to 5 PM, starting at 400 Carroll Street. Tickets are $20. Call (212) 615-6797.