City Water Tunnel #3

Galileo’s Tears
The water man from Phoenix said: “You have to recognize we’re a closed system – the earth is a closed system – 3/4 of it covered with water, only a small percentage of that is drinkable…the rest brackish. The challenge is universal. Consequently, it being a closed system, we’re drinking the same water that Napoleon drank. We’re drinking the same water that Archimedes drank. We’re drinking the same water that Galileo drank. So you just have to recognize that, put it into that context, and realize you can only do so much with it.”

A multi-media Obie-winning play & a five-year community art project.

Marty Pottenger was the performer, writer and Artistic Director for City Water Tunnel #3, a multi-media, Obie-winning play and five-year community art project. The play was produced by Dance Theater Workshop and Dancing in the Streets in 1996 and by The Working Theater and Art At Work in 1998. Music for the production was composed by Steve Elson. The show premiered at Dance Theater Workshop and HERE Arts Center (New York, NY) in 1996, then touring UK, Italy, Yugoslavia, Sweden, as well as the USA.

City Water Tunnel #3 is about the building of the largest non-defense public works project in the Western Hemisphere. The tunnel’s construction began in 1970 and is scheduled for completion in 2025. CWT#3 was created in partnership with Local 147 of the Tunnelworker’s Union and NYC’s largest city agency, the Department of Environmental Protection, which is in charge of the tunnel’s design, planning, financing and construction.

You can watch the entire performance below.

In addition to the play, the City Water Tunnel #3 Project included:

  • Gallery exhibits of photographs, artifacts and tunnel memorabilia.
  • Live multi-media performance(s) produced in NYC, the NY Upstate Watershed Region, universities, conferences and theaters nationally establishing a Memorial Fund which raised $20,000 towards the commission and installation of granite drinking fountains in each of the five boroughs to honor the 25 people who have died thus far.
  • Onsite lunchtime performances at construction sites & NYC Govt. office buildings.
  • A video by Mary Ellen Strom that traveled in installation form to the job sites.
  • Two fairs for the public and tunnel building community.

In 1998, City Water Tunnel #3 had a month-long run at the Judith Anderson Theater in New York City. In 1999, the piece was performed at Dance Place (Washington, DC); George Meaney Labor Center (Silver Springs, MD); Working Women Festival (San Francisco, CA); University of Kansas (Lawrence, KS). From 2000 – 2002, the piece toured Rome, Stockholm, Belgrade, the N. New England Tradeswomen Conference, Vermont and Iowa.

The project was generously supported by Lila Wallace Arts Partners, the Rockefeller MAP Fund, NYSCA, NYFA, Arts International, and the Greenwall Foundation.