NYC harbor used to contain half of the world's oysters. HALF! For thousands of years, oysters were superheroes: they kept the rivers clean by naturally filtering sediment, their beds provided habitats for a diversity of aquatic life and protected the shoreline from erosion, and they kept people (poor and rich alike) fed and happy. New York's fishing industry was a major reason for the city's economic and cultural growth. But in just a few hundred years, through a combination of overfishing, harbor dredging and sewage pollution, the entirety of oysters were wiped out by the occupants of Manahatta/New Amsterdam/New York.
Now, there are successful movements to restore oysters to the waterways of New York. Organizations like the Billion Oyster Project, Riverkeeper, and the Oyster Research Restoration Project are proving how the presence of oysters signals hope. We may never be able to eat them, but we may see a resurgence of life, activity and clarity when we gaze down from the edge of Manhattan, knowing that some feet below us, our silent allies are working hard to make a better world for all proud New Yorkers, bivalves and primates alike.
Fresh from the hatchery, a young oyster attempts to combat a storm and the resulting sewage that threatens to destroy her community and the life of the harbor.
Salty Folk is a one-act musical for audiences of all ages about oysters and NYC's aquatic ecology, created and directed by Jeremy Pickard and Nate Weida in
conversation with some of NY's premiere water scientists and oyster experts, including Sam Janis (Billion Oyster Project) and Dorothy Peteet (Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory).
Photos by Jane Rebecca Marchant and Jeremy Pickard, from various versions of Salty Folk in development.
Salty Folk final development, May/June 2016 as part of a New Victory Theater LabWorks residency, ART/NY Creative Space grant, and a work-in-progress performance for the Billion Oyster Project on Governor's Island. More information here. Featuring Kelley Dugan, Sam Gonzalez, Ben Langhorst, Serena Miller, Vanessa Pereda-Felix, and Wes Zurick, with drawings by Lani Fu and choreography by Danny Gardner. The May/June 2016 development process was made possible thanks to a grant from the Puffin Foundation, a LabWorks residency with the New Victory Theater, and the support of Billion Oyster Project.
Salty Folk work-in-progress performance, June 19, 2015 at the NY Harbor School as part of the Billion Oyster Project's first annual symposium
Featuring Chasten Harmon, Vanessa Pereda-Felix, Ronald Peet, Eva Peskin, Dan Tracy, Nate Weida, and Wesley Zurick.
Salty Folk work-in-progress performance, March 6, 2015 at the NY Harbor School
Featuring Vanessa Pereda-Felix, Eben Hoffer, Stephanie Hsu, Isabella Sazak, Allan Washington, Nate Weida, and Wesley Zurick. Stage Managed by Harry Poster, Production Assisted by David Schacht.
Salty Folk work-in-progress performance, December 21, 2014 in NYC as part of Superhero Solstice Celebration. Featuring Jay Felix, Vanessa Pereda-Felix, Zoe Geltman, Eben Hoffer, Nate Weida and Wesley Zurick, with choreography by Annalisa Ledson.
Salty Folk performed it's first "sneak peak" on October 11, 2014 at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory as part of their annual Open House, presented by PositiveFeedback. Featuring Jay Felix, Vanessa Pereda-Felix, Jeremy Pickard, Kelly Rogers and Nate Weida, with production assistance from John Le and Harry Poster.
Salty Folk will premiere in 2016/17.
If you are a school interested to host a performance for your students, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Funding for the development of Salty Folk has been made possible by Puffin Foundation, New Victory LabWorks, and the Billion Oyster Project/NY Harbor School.