Friday, November 4, 2011

CRIME, USA, HARTFORD

Our cabaret LET ME ASCERTAIN YOU: CRIME, USA last year featured interviews about crime conducted in Florida and New York, plus some songs by the band Scrapomatic (photos of the evening are HERE , plus the audio from the performance will be included in our podcast series launching very soon!). The creative force behind that evening was our Associate Artist and R&D Group member Alix Lambert, who is continuing her fascinating work with the topic. She is currently in Hartford, CT conducting interviews, and she was also able to spend some time at Occupy Hartford. The following is direct from Alix, chronicling the first few days of her current investigation!

Post by Alix Lambert, Photos by Alix Lambert and Michael Premo

I am developing a play with the support of Real Art Ways and The Civilians about crime in Hartford, Connecticut, aptly titled: CRIME, USA, HARTFORD. Michael Premo and Jordan Mahome have agreed to come with me to Hartford for a week to conduct the initial interviews that the play will be based on. Meghan Maguire Dahn (Development Manager for Real Art Ways) has graciously offered to drive us from Brooklyn to Hartford, which saves us a Megabus ride.

Monday morning Dahn and I pick up Premo and Mahome, who both live within convenient proximity to my house, and we head toward Hartford. Dahn has been referring to Hartford as Treecapolyse after the horrendous storm the previous day which brought down many trees and left large parts of the city without power.



Here are Premo (L) and Mahome (R) sleeping in the car on the way.

We arrive to a city in chaos. Traffic lights are out, power is spotty (literally and metaphorically) and everything is generally upside down. We settle into our hotel and go by Real Art Ways to say hello to Will K. Wilkins (the director of Real Art Ways) and John O’Donnell (visual arts coordinator), who have been helping line up interviews and taking care of logistics for our stay. The play will be presented at Real Art Ways in March and I want to take a look at both the visual arts space and the theater space that I will be using. Mahome has contacted an old friend in Hartford who is without power but has agreed to talk with us. He is a school-teacher and we are interested in talking with his students as well, but school is closed for days due to the storm. In the evening we have an amazing and insightful conversation with Mahome’s friends that lasts over two hours.

On Tuesday we decide to drive over to the offices of the Hartford Courant (newspaper) and see if any journalists want to speak with us. The person at the front desk dismisses us by giving us a phone number and sending us away. We have noticed that across the street from the Courant is where Occupy Hartford is set up: a sprinkling of tents and a sad snow-man. We cross the street to see what’s going on over there. 


We are greeted by Luke, who tells us he is recently out of a psych ward, and after living in the woods for a month in Ithaca NY, ended up in Hartford in a shelter, but the bedbugs were too much for him so now he’s living at Occupy Hartford. He shows us his tent. Premo speaks to an older gentlemen who talks about his friendships with Elvis and Robert Kennedy, while Mahome and I talk to a nurse who has some compelling stories about kids coming to her with lumps under their skin that turn out to be bullets that were never removed from their bodies. Luke tells us that his favorite thing to do is ride really fast on his bicycle while high on heroine, and I buy an Occupy Hartford pin for 2 dollars. Today we are heading to the Boxing gym, and tomorrow to the tattoo parlor, both promising to be brimming with Hartford crime stories.





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