New World Performance Lab (NWPL) presents “Across the River (Al otro lado del rio),” a new solo performance featuring Jairo Cuesta, written by Josy Jones, and directed by James Slowiak. This performance is the first in a series of events NWPL will present this spring in Akron before relocating to Europe. In this intimate and compelling theatre encounter, NWPL co-artistic director, Jairo Cuesta, takes the spectator on the journey of an immigrant. Using both autobiographical details and stories from the field and fiction, Cuesta weaves a mythic tale of the perils, heartaches, wanderings, and wonders of leaving one’s home to settle in another country. The storytelling is made even more vivid by NWPL company member Josy Jones’ poetic playwriting.
Due to Covid-19 restrictions, live performances are designed for only a small number of spectators, using strict pandemic guidelines. Performances are March 26, 27, 29, 31, and April 1, 2, 3 at 8pm and March 28 at 7pm, at Balch Street Theatre, 220 South Balch Street, Akron OH 44302. Admittance will be by reservation or invitation only. Two performances are scheduled to be livestreamed on Saturday, April 10, at 8pm and Sunday, April 11 at 2pm. The suggested “Come Back to the Theatre” ticket price is $25 or pay-what-you-will. Tickets for the live performances are available online at https://acrosstheriver.bpt.me or by calling 330-678-8408. Information about the livestreamed performances will be available on NWPL’s website at www.nwplab.com
“Across the River (Al otro lado del rio)” began as an exploration of immigration stories. After the pandemic limited any kind of face-to-face encounters, Jairo Cuesta and playwright Josy Jones turned more inward and investigated Jairo’s own history as an “outsider.” The result is a performance that sparks many questions about sacrifice, violence, freedom, and the experience of the immigrant today. It’s a contemporary odyssey that confronts each of us with the basic truth about how we receive those who “cross the river.”
This project marks Jairo Cuesta’s final appearance on stage in Northeast Ohio after more than 30 years of remarkable performances. Director James Slowiak also bids farewell with this production after more than 50 Ohio productions as a director and educator since 1990. “Across the River (Al otro lado del rio),” features the work of NWPL’s resident designers with lighting design and technical direction co-executed by Chris Hariasz and Kix, costumes by Inda Blatch-Geib, and sound and projections designed by Dave Cranston and Anthony Crislip.
The project is funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation as part of its Knight Arts Challenge. The Knight Arts Challenge funds the best ideas for engaging and enriching Akron through the arts. Additional funding for the project comes from The GAR Foundation.
New World Performance Lab (NWPL) is a program of the Center for Applied Theater and Active Culture (CATAC), a non-profit, charitable organization operating with support from Akron Community Foundation, GAR Foundation, The Char and Chuck Fowler Family Foundation, Ohio Arts Council, The City of Akron, and many individual contributors.