SPILL co-created by Leigh Fondakowski and Reeva Wortel

by Leigh Fondakowski


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In the wake of what is now being called the largest environmental disaster in U.S. history, playwright Leigh Fondakowski creates SPILL, a play based on interviews with the people of the Gulf coast of Louisiana in the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon / BP oil spill.

SPILL will recount the dramatic story of the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon and the subsequent impact on the estuary and marine life, but will also take a close look at the people, the history, the culture, and the environmental crisis of coastal erosion facing southern Louisiana.

Fondakowski and her collaborator visual artist and photographer Reeva Wortel have been conducting interviews in the Gulf since March 2011, talking with people across the political spectrum – from Tea Party Republicans to life-long environmental conservationists, families who lost loved ones in the explosion on the oil rig, as well as oil-rig workers, clean-up workers, scientists, politicians, priests, and members of the diverse fishing communities along the coast. 


Each one of our interviewees also posed for a portrait. Visual artist Reeva Wortel took a stunning series of photographs from which she will create thirty life-sized painted portraits. These portraits will be displayed as an art installation in which the actors will play a crucial role. The audience will interact with this innovative live installation before and after viewing the play.

The world has entered a new era of fossil fuel extraction through increasingly more dangerous and unconventional means. The play and installation will explore Louisiana’s long history with the oil industry, creating awareness about the important environmental issues affecting not only Louisiana, but also the rest of the country.


The overall budget for the creation of this work is $100,000 of which the artists have raised close to $40,000.

Our USA goal of $10,070 is to cover the cost of 21 days of crucial research and interviewing in the Gulf. As scientists begin to unravel the long-term environmental impact of this oil spill, it is essential that the artists return to the Gulf to continue interviewing the people most affected.

The timeline for completion of this work is an ambitious one year. Traditional granting cycles simply take too long to allow for a quick artistic response to a  current event of this magnitude. We need your support!

If we exceed our USA goal of $10,070, any additional money will go toward finishing funds for the project, which has a fundraising gap of $50,000! Please give generously if you can!


The play and installation will be presented as a work-in-progress in New Orleans and along the coast in April 2012, on the second anniversary of the spill. The Southern and New York Premieres of the play and installation will follow in the Fall of 2012.

SPILL was originally commissioned by Wesleyan University with additional support from the Institute for Advanced Studies at the University of Minnesota.

SPILL is being developed in association with The Study Group.

Match Funds are not currently available.

Previous donations matched by:

    • December 29, 2011 Elizabeth Baron Community Member

      Keep up the stellar work, Leigh!!!

    • December 21, 2011 margo Hall Community Member

      Good Luck with the campaign!

    • December 21, 2011 Sue Ott Rowlands Community Member

      Good luck, Leigh! Sue

    • December 19, 2011 Greg Reiner Community Member

      I can't get your interface with amazon payments to work on my computer. Is there a way to support this project without using amazon?

    • December 02, 2011 Lynn Reed Community Member

      Hi Leigh -- Sheila and Alex spread the word on your project and I was happy to learn about it. Best of luck. -- Lynn Reed