New World Performance Laboratory (NWPL) presents preview performances of its work-in-progress, "Industrial Valley" the third part of The Devil's Milk Trilogy, a long-term project based on Akron's relationship with rubber and the rubber industry, Oct. 20, 21 and 22 at 8 p.m. and Oct. 23 at 2 p.m. in The Balch Street Theatre, 220 South Balch St. in Akron.
For information and reservations call 330-867-3299 or devilsmilk3.brownpapertickets.com. Each preview performance will be followed by an audience talkback session. Admission is $10.
"Industrial Valley" is an ensemble-devised theatre performance based on one-time Beacon Journal reporter Ruth McKenney's acclaimed 1939 account of class and industrial conflict in Akron, Ohio. NWPL, under the direction of co-artistic director and University of Akron theatre professor James Slowiak, brings to life Depression-era Akron and the labor movement. Malcolm Cowley called McKenney's historical novel "the best American example of proletarian literature." The preview performances of "Industrial Valley: The Devil's Milk, Part 3," provide the public with a view of NWPL's working process and the birth of a company created performance with music, songs, dances, and stories from Akron's rubber workers.
The NWPL ensemble consists of co-artistic director Jairo Cuesta and long-time company members and Akron residents Debora Totti, Justin Hale, and Chris Buck, with apprentices Rosilyn Jentner, Robert Keith, and Kyra Kelley. The performers are supported by resident costume designer Inda Blatch-Geib, resident set designer/technician Kirsten Williams, resident lighting designer/technical director Chris Hariasz, and media designer/videographer Dave Cranston.
NWPL, in conjunction with the Center for Applied Theatre and Active Culture (CATAC), has been developing "The Devil's Milk Trilogy" since 2015. "Death of a Man: The Devil's Milk, Part 1" premiered in February 2016 as a solo performance featuring Jairo Cuesta. "Goosetown: The Devil's Milk, Part 2" written and composed by Akron native JT Buck, will have preview performances in December 2016. The entire trilogy is planned to begin performances in early 2017 at the company's home base, The Balch Street Theatre, 220 South Balch Street in Akron. Each part of the trilogy stands on its own as a performance event and takes on a very distinct theatrical form and style, providing a stimulus and forum for a frank discussion about the city and the rubber that shaped it. NWPL's Devil's Milk Trilogy is a finalist in the Knight Foundation's Arts Challenge Akron. Funding for the project has also been received from the Char and Chuck Fowler Family Foundation, Akron Community Foundation, and Ohio Arts Council.