Writer Catherine Hurd and composer Vatrena King are taking their musical “Zuccotti Park” back to New York City to participate in the 20th anniversary New York International Fringe Festival happening August 12 to 28. The play – called one of the “ten shows that stand out” at FringeNYC – is being directed and choreographed by Luis Salgado, who is currently performing in Broadway’s “On Your Feet,” the musical that follows Gloria and Emilio Estefan’s journey to superstardom.
Salgado won Best Director in the 2014 Thespis Festival Awards, and helped choreograph the Tony Award-winning musical, “In The Heights.” “Zuccotti Park, A Musical About the Human Side of Economics” opens August 17 at the Flamboyán Theater at The Clemente located at 107 Suffolk St., New York City.
“Zuccotti Park” had its premiere at the 2015 Venus Adonis Theater Festival in New York City, where Luis Salgado also directed, and won Best Director. The play was the top rated musical, won Second Place, Best Play, and broke festival box office records.
“My interest in the Occupy Movement coincided with my interest in economics and the banking system,” the writer Hurd told Occupy.com. “I was appalled at the bank bailouts, as were many other people. I was frustrated at the unfairness of it all, and wanted to do something to help educate people. I decided that using my writing skills would be the best way to do that.”
To that end, “Zuccotti Park” is a musical about the human side of economics. Set at its namesake location during the Occupy Wall Street protests of late 2011, the play dramatizes the experiences of a broad cross-section of Americans whose lives have been impacted by injustices in the current economic system.
Reimagining a Movement
In the play, two soldiers, Cooper and Washington, visit New York City on their leave from Afghanistan. Cooper is an Iowa farm boy; Washington is an African-American and New York City native. Cooper has arranged to meet up with Kate, his childhood sweetheart, at Zuccotti Park, but unbeknownst to him the park has become ground zero for the Occupy movement.
He finds Kate just as she is being pepper-sprayed for assisting a friend during a police raid. Cooper challenges the police for what he sees as unnecessary force, is handcuffed for his efforts, and ends up in jail with the protesters. Despite their radically different world views, Cooper finds he is still attracted to grown-up Kate. After Cooper, Kate and the other protesters are bailed out of jail, Cooper accepts Kate’s invitation to spend time with her and her fellow activists.
Throughout the play, Cooper and the audience learn the back-stories of some of the protesters: a homeless veteran, a family buying their first home, and a student who can’t find a job, among others. The opinions of people who have profited from the economic system also make their way into the drama. The story comes to a head when the police raid the Occupy camp at Zuccotti Park, on November 15, 2011, and dismantle it.
“Maya Angelou once said, ‘I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel,'” said Hurd, an award-winning writer who earned a masters degree in Screenwriting from UCLA and holds a BFA in Theater from Florida Atlantic University.
“That stuck with me, and of course [it] is the essence of all good drama: Emotion. So I decided to use stories and songs to dramatize the things I’d learned. Seeing and hearing the pain of those hurt by the economic system would touch the audience in a way that nothing else can.”
Hurd’s efforts paid off, as comments from “Zuccotti Park” audience members showed increased understanding of the Occupy movement and the people involved in it.
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