The images that are associated with the South Bronx are those of violence and crime, of gangster thugs and pregnant teenagers, of a grimy dirtiness and a damned poverty. The South Bronx carries such intense negative connotations, which can be justified at times, but are constructed completely by others. I find these associations to be extremely detrimental to both the borough and those who inhabit it. The borough itself suffers because outsiders fear exploring its rich geography and culture. Instead the South Bronx continues to exist within its own bubble, working within its own unyielding atmosphere and suffering the never ending cycle of poverty. But worst of all, the people who live there, the youth especially, grow up with the mentality that the Bronx is nothing and they too will be nothing as a result. This way of thinking poisons ambition and dreams, stifling all of the creativity and resources that the South Bronx could possibly offer.
Falling Off the Train Tracks is a documentary theater piece that aims to capture the true voices of the people of the South Bronx, to develop an image created by those who were born and/or lived there.
Documentary theater is theater that incorporates documentary material such as newspapers, government reports and, in this case, interviews. Using documentary theater is great because it allows me to capture the speech characteristics of my interviewees. But since it is essentially a play, readers will keep in mind that these words are meant to be spoken, forcing them to focus on characteristics such as pauses, hesitation, repetitions, etc. I think that the features attributed to plays would also enhance the reading experience. Scene descriptions and staging allow me to induce the imagery and colors of the South Bronx.
Falling Off the Train Tracks is essentially a case study on the ideas attached to the borough, the myths created and the memories shared. I am mostly interested in the differences that I expect to find, which I believe will create a rich text, one that will widen the general public’s notions of the South Bronx because it comes from the mouths of its own residents.