FLUSHED: into the world of wastewater treatment
A solo performance collages stories of real people behind the treatment process.
Over a period of several months, storyteller and performer Stokley Towles immersed himself in what he calls “the world of wastewater,” interviewing treatment plant operators, marine biologists, engineers, farmers, and members of the public. He researched the wastewater treatment process and its history and gathered a variety of photos and illustrations. From this material, Towles created FLUSHED: into the world of wastewater treatment, a solo performance built on a simple question: after we flush, where does it all go?Accompanied by projected images, Towles’ entertaining and informative 50-minute show told the stories of real people who play a part in the wastewater process, such as the sewage swim team and a treatment plant manager. Towles took particular care in crafting the stories of Leroy and Gary, two Eastern Washington farmers who transform processed waste into a manure-like material, which they use to amend the soil on wheat fields. “King County spent years developing a relationship with these farmers,” Towles says, explaining his determination to honor that partnership with an accurate portrayal. A through-line about the treatment process itself anchored the overall performance—an element Towles expanded when test audiences expressed keen interest in the details. He gave multiple performances at venues across the county, often followed by Q&A sessions.
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FLUSHED was part of the Conveyance Project, a series of temporary artworks that engaged the community in a conversation about water quality, environmental stewardship, and the Brightwater system.Based in Seattle, Towles is primarily a solo performer who creates original works about the relationship of people to their daily working and living environments. He has performed at conventions, art spaces, bookstores, and nightclubs in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Seattle. Other 4Culture commissions include The Trails Project and The Long Walk.
Stokley Towles. FLUSHED: into the world of wastewater treatment, 2013. Digital video. Brightwater, Woodinville, WA. King County Public Art Collection
About the Location
Brightwater Science, art, design, and ecology come together at Brightwater, one of the largest wastewater treatment facilities in the world. Located north of Woodinville, WA, Brightwater comprises a park, a community gathering space, an exhibition hall, and a scientific learning laboratory in addition to the structures that house technical operations. Throughout the site, integrated and portable…
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