Riparia: Ecological Fortunes
Riparia is an ongoing performance project motivated by my interest in storytelling as a potent and ancient form of popular edutainment. Specifically, I am interested in how storytelling and interactive performance generate curiosity and exchange between performer and audience, and allow participants to learn more about the place they inhabit.
Riparia conducts ‘Web of Life Card Readings’ using a (still-evolving) deck of cards, emblazoned with images representing ecological and political themes. Tapping into popular interest in ‘fortune-telling’, Riparia does not claim to augur the future. Rather, the act of pulling cards effects a temporary, introspective space in which people are guided in responding to the images, reflecting on their relationship to the land, to their communities and to the forces of destruction and restoration. Riparia also utilizes a hand-sewn map of the Chesapeake Watershed and a small theater set inside an oyster shell (‘The Pearl’) to share stories about the history and ecology of this bioregion and explore people’s relationships to the Chesapeake and the bodies of water near their place of birth.
The performances are intimate events for one or two people at a time.