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Musical “Zuccotti Park” Brings Economic Justice to the Stage

Occupy.com Feb 3

 

Writer Catherine Hurd and composer Vatrena King are taking their musical play “Zuccotti Park” to New York City later this month where it will premiere in the Venus Adonis New York Theater Festival. Produced and directed by Luis Salgado, who won Best Director at the 2014 Thespis Festival Awards and helped choreograph the Tony Award-winning musical "In The Heights,” “Zuccotti Park” opens Feb. 26 at the Robert Moss Theater with additional shows on Feb. 28 and March 1.

"My interest in the Occupy Movement coincided with my interest in economics and the banking system," 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 in New York City during the Occupy 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.

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, a childhood friend, 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 worldviews, Cooper finds he is 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 Nov. 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."

To help finance the show's production, the group launched a $10,000 crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo. It is seeking public support before the campaign's closing date of Feb. 16.

Hurd continued, "On the intellectual side, the play seeks to explain the economic system – not an easy task. In fact, 'Zuccotti Park' was quite an undertaking, and has taken me years to research, write and have lyrics put to music. Vatrena King is an incredibly talented composer, and we are very lucky to have Luis Salgado as a director, [who] brings such passion and creativity to the project."

King, who graduated from Berklee College of Music before becoming a 1st-call session singer, had a co-starring singing role on the hit TV show “Ally McBeal.” She has performed and/or recorded with such artists as Melissa Manchester, Rod Stewart, Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, Ray Charles, Barry Manilow and Barry White.

For more information about the musical, its performance times, and how to help support it, visit ZuccottiParkMusical.

This article originally appeared at Occupy.com.

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