The Gowanus Canal Morality Play

April 3, 2013 | Andy Cush

To call attention to the dismal state of the Gowanus Canal and the controversial federal effort to clean it up, a group of actors and activists will stage a century-old play near the mouth of the waterway. Why a play? An Enemy of the People, penned in 1882, concerns the citizens of a highly polluted waterfront village. Sound familiar?

“It’s a waterside community that is being asked to face a truth about the state of their health and the environmental conditions that they are living in,” says Reg Flowers, director of the production. “There is a question of how the issue is going to be dealt with once it is discovered that the water is poisonous.”

To put an even sharper point on the performance, the players are staging the show on an industrial complex owned by one John Quadrozzi Jr., the man who wants to use sludge dredged from the canal to literally build new land in Red Hook (land that would belong to his company, of course).

“This site is so much at the center of the discussion. It makes sense that the play is there,” says Flowers.

Enemy of the People will be staged at Red Hook’s Gowanus Bay Terminal, May 2-5. Get tickets here.

(Photo: Lisa Rex/Flickr)