Cigarette butts. Full cans of soup. Chairs. And, in a single example, a lamp. These are the varieties of things humans are throwing at creation people whilst they’re busy looking to restore the water pipes of Calgary, Alberta, in keeping with Stokley Towles in his modern-day documentary-style play, Surfing Underground. Towles is a Seattle storyteller recognized for digging into the way municipal structures work. In Behind the Wheel: Life on the Metro Bus, which he achieved in 2016 on an actual bus, he performed numerous interviews with bus drivers and told their testimonies from their point of view. The idea becomes to show, raise, and draw knowledge from the lives of people who people in large part ignore as they move approximately their day.
Towles is greater or much less doing the same issue with Surfing Underground, however this time he’s imparting a study the lives of Canadian construction employees who spend long hours dodging random trash whilst looking to restoration pipes underground. (And this time he is not on a bus. He’s generating the display inside the little brick theater internal 18th & Union.)
Towles spent months carrying out interviews with dozens of production workers for his play, which in the long run takes the shape of a TedTalk mixed with an episode of the Moth Podcast blended with a puppet show. As he tells a heartwarming tale of an especially tough process on a specially tough day—fixing more than one leaks in a water pipe on Christmas Eve—he lays out facts which you failed to understand you continually wanted to understand about digging holes inside the ground. It’s possibly now not for all people, however, I very a great deal loved geeking out on illustrations of hollow systems and maps of web-like water pipe networks.
He additionally weaves in vignettes approximately the dangers of working underground, which can be particularly tough in freezing cold Canadian winters. One worker stated his hands once iced over to a ladder even as he became looking to climb out of a hollow. He had to retain conserving onto the ladder until his fingers warmed up enough, otherwise, he risked ripping off the flesh from his fingers. Several years in the past, a hollow collapsed on some other employee, completely protecting him in the dirt. The foreman had to dig the man out with a shovel before the strain of the dirt and dirt collapsed the worker’s lungs.
And then, of course, there are the interactions with the public. Apparently, human beings are assholes to production employees. Workers claim humans are continuously asking them when they will be completed running. They also every so often run over them with their motors. And when working on a domain beneath apartment homes, the people told Towles that people would every so often throw stuff at them. And these have been CANADIAN people throwing this stuff. Can you believe what we Americans are throwing at our personal creation workers?
As he did in Behind the Wheel, Towles deploys little koans he mined from his interviews with the construction employees, revealing philosophical depths the culture does not usually accomplice with people. One of the construction workers, as an instance, instructed Towles about his intellectual strategy for dealing with the cold. “You gotta loosen up and permit the blood flow” while coping with severe climate, he stated. If you tense up, you may freeze. Sounded like the right advice in trendy.
Like anybody who glorifies the lives of the volk (c.F. Romantic poets, W.B. Yeats, Studs Terkel), Towles comes near, at times, to overlooking some problems on his quest to humanize/valorize the people. He touches on some messed up gender dynamics at play inside the industry, however, he does not absolutely check out them. His tone of wonder and actual interest can nearly veer into condescension. Something like, are you able to accept as true with these production people are actually clever human beings with complete lives??