By Marcina Zaccaria



What is it like to find traces of the past in you? Port Cities NY, a unique performance event, explores this very question.


Port Cities links Perth, Cape Town, Amsterdam, New York City, and Jakarta. The New York section is the first part of the journey. Boarding the bright yellow Water Taxi at Pier 11 near Wall Street, this adventure is more than sight-seeing. Patrons are encouraged to listen to a pre-recorded soundscape with spoken text and orchestral music by Cameron Orr. The broad sweeping violin is quite evocative. Synthesizer follows.




The performance continues after a short journey on the water. Dancers are seen in the distance, moving in slow motion. It is quite beautiful. With an effortless flow, they carry primary-colored crates. Performers lead the audience to The Waterfront Museum, housed aboard the historic Lehigh Valley Barge in Red Hook, Brooklyn.


The site-specific feel of the barge is quite unique. Objects are put together to make musical instruments. The look is sculptural. The text is lyrical and informative. The story moves in time from Seventienth century and to the present, looking at trade routes. Signage (that is probably in the barge all year) is lit with bright colors from a video projector. Live violin really makes the difference.


Dancers surround Katie. How do we find roots with other people? Katie, the main character, suffers from a struggle and is quite gripping. Like so many who might become lost in Red Hook, Brooklyn, she navigates a path to better understanding slowly. Drifting around the barge in a flannel shirt, she is an embodiment of loss.




With Port Cities, the history seems to be in the making, and understanding is developed from appreciating the time that is traveled. Text speaks of the Dutch trade, and includes passages about money and Wall Street. The words, written by Director Talya Chalef, focus on Katie, who is frightened and upset. Katie explores a table full of books about earlier times. She finds comfort in date night with her boyfriend. She listens to the people leaping around, discussing moments from the past. They consider what the word seven means, and wonder what a difference seven days makes. The overall piece has a soft atmosphere.


Video projections break through with bright colors, moving horizontally. Generative Projection Visuals are by Horus Vacui. Lighting and Projection Designer Weston G. Wetzel says a lot with repetition. Director Talya Chalef studied Animateuring (Theatremaking/Devising) in Australia, and is interested in the concept of spectral mapping – looking at the past, and finding the links that might be gone.


Port Cities leaves the audience with a sense of awe. Moody and evocative, Port Cities NY is a unique theater experience.


Port Cities NY will be running until May 19. Official details can be found at www.portcitiesproject.org.

Photos: Kelly Stuart