"Africans believe in something that is difficult to render in English.
call it ubuntu botho. It means the essence of being human. You know
is there and when it is absent. It speaks about humanness, gentleness,
hospitality, putting yourself out on the behalf of others, being
It recognizes that my humanity is bound in yours, for we can only be
ARCHBISHOP DESMOND TUTU
Abundance is a community arts performance project gathering stories and exploring ways that people of different classes, races and ages negotiate economics in their daily lives. The heart of Abundance is nationwide interviews with billionaires and minimum wage workers coupled with a year-long New York-based civic dialogue group that includes undocumented workers and millionaires. Culminating in a tragic musical comedy called Abundance, which premieres in New York City Spring of 2003, the project makes possible an exchange historically marked by silence and shame on both ends. Critical to the conception of the project, and evidenced in the interviews thus far, is the perspective that we are all in this together. Abundance allows both the participants and audiences to step away from their understandable assumptions, resentments, confusions and fears and isolation, to imagine together economic solutions that work for everyone. A collaborative project with The Working Theatre and Snug Harbor Cultural Center in New York City, the dialogues and performances also engage a host of organizations, arts presenters and communities across the United States in exploring the intimate and collective impact of money and economics on our lives.
Abundance is being developed in a similar way to Pottenger's OBIE award-winning project City Water Tunnel #3, which focused on the construction of a 64 mile long water tunnel as deep as the Chrysler Building is high, which will eventually carry water to nine million New Yorkers. Integrating original writing and movement with selected text from over 250 interviews with construction workers, government officials, scientists, engineers, bankers, and other New Yorkers, Pottenger created a multi-media performance documentary and theater work, contributing to the practice and methodology of the community arts movement. The resulting performance, as well as a video installation and photography exhibit, has since been viewed by tens of thousands of citizens, across the U.S. and abroad.
Marty Pottenger's most ambitious project to date, Abundance combines live performance with other visual and literary arts, realizing the interdependent nature of artistic and community dialogue, and enabling the participation of thousands of individuals across the country. Envisioned as a multi-dimensional, multi-cultural community arts project, designed to reach an ever-widening circle of participants and audiences, Abundance offers American citizens and residents of all classes the transformative power and imaginative reach of live performance as a tool in our conversations about today's economic challenges and tomorrow's economic possibilities.
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