The subjects of Arm-of-the-Sea’s productions are usually based on a historical narrative concerning the injustice of man to man, often related to the environment: This is art with a conscience. This season’s piece, titled La Cosecha/The Harvest, is concerned with the plight of migrant farmworkers. It tells the story of Cesar, a young man from Central America heading north to find work who gets into all kinds of trouble when he tries to cross the border into the US.
Originally performed in 2005, the piece is based on real events and grew out of workshops and residencies that Arm-of-the-Sea co-directors Marlena Marallo and Patrick Wadden conducted for teens and young people associated with the Mid-Hudson Rural and Migrant Ministry over several summers. The piece has since been updated, with scenes and characters, including drug traffickers, added to reflect the new realities of the border. “The whole border situation has become intensely violent,” noted Wadden. “The people who are just trying to get across for work are often victims of narco traffickers and drug syndicates, who try to exploit them, as does the border patrol.”
The piece features Juan Basilio-Sanchez, an immigrant from Nicaragua who sings, plays guitar and narrates some of the story (presented in English and Spanish). Basilio-Sanchez experienced his native country’s turbulent revolution firsthand, so his participation lends authenticity to the production. He’ll be singing what’s called Nueva Canción: songs derived from Latin American’s protest movements.
At the keyboards and drums will be Arm-of-the-Sea’s longtime musical director Dean Jones, who also will play the trombone. Marallo created the puppets and sets – her inventiveness never ceases to amaze – and Wadden, accompanied by veteran performers Carl Welden and Cathy Muller, brings the puppets to life (he also wrote the narrative).
Now in its 29th season, Arm-of-the-Sea tours its original productions throughout the Northeast, averaging 100 performances a year at schools, festivals and performing arts centers. Among its recent venues were the Clearwater Festival, SUNY-Ulster, the Saratoga Arts Festival and the Governor’s Island Festival and TriBeCa Performing Arts Center in New York City.
The performance begins at 8 p.m. Admission is $10 for adults, $5 for children and $25 for a family of four. The rain date for either performance is August 14. For more information, visit www.ArmoftheSea.org or call (845) 246-7873.