Driftless (100 minutes)
10 characters (5 actors)
A young family sprouts from the hills of Southwestern Pennsylvania. A Catholic priest from Eastern Minnesota embeds himself in a new community. Guided by the science and wisdom of two saints, Driftless brings an ongoing debate into the heart of our family kitchens.
Sample of Driftless

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Drifltess premiered as part of a Hatch Arts Collective residency at New Hazlett Theater on Pittsburgh's North Side in August 2016. Initial development for Driftless took the form of two short, experimental performances with Hatch Arts Collective (more below). Each explored the practice of hydraulic fracturing and its profound effect locally, nationally, and internationally. My hope through the various iterations of this project is to create images and stories that can serve as tools in the fight for environmental justice, both in Western Pennsylvania and more broadly. For the final text, I interviewed around 30 individuals in Western Pennsylvania who are somehow connected with fracking. These included activists, fracking workers, business owners, politicians, landowners and so on. Their perspective greatly influenced the direction of the play. I am so grateful for their time and energy.


Hatch Arts Collective was also lucky to partner with organizations doing activist work around fracking and fossil fuel extraction in and around Pittsburgh. We are so grateful for their input in shaping this project. These included, but are not limited to, The Center for Coalfield JusticeThe Southwest Pennsylvania Environmental Health ProjectFriends of the Harmed, and The March for Clean Energy.

Funding for Driftless was provided by the A. W. Mellon Educational and Charitable Trust Fund of The Pittsburgh Foundation, Opportunity Fund, the Puffin Foundation Ltd, the Small Arts Initiative of the Heinz Endowments, Three Rivers Community Foundation, and the William V. and Catherine A. McKinney Charitable Trusts through the PNC Charitable Trust Grant Review Committee. It was also supported in part by the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.

Driftless Phase 1 took the form of a 30-minute performance piece navigating an encounter between the non-profit world of environmental activism and the reality of hydraulic fracturing. Mixing real accounts of this issue with US tax code, a Roman Catholic Mass, and corporate literature, Driftless Phase 1 was presented by The Drift on October 19th, 2013, on the Allegheny River.

Driftless Phase 2, supported by the Heinz Endowments’ Small Arts Initiative, gathered nine artists from various disciplines to create a second, short performance piece. This group spent two weeks responding to transcripts from a recent trial involving a protest at a frac sand facility in Winona, MN. The culminating 30-minute performance was presented on May 23rd, 2014, at PearlArts Studios. It incorporated gestural and surreal imaginings of the trial amidst the artists’ personal experiences with fracking and water. Driftless Phase 2 also created space for the audience to share their own stories and begin connecting with one another through their own understanding of this important conversation.