Who has given to me this sweet
And given my brother dust to eat?
And when will his wage come in?
—William Vaughn Moody, “Gloucester Moors”
A man-made environmental disaster, the Dust Bowl began in 1931 and lasted for almost a decade, displacing entire populations in the southern plains region of the United States. Constant droughts, bug infestations, and increasingly dangerous living conditions left farmers with one guarantee: dust. “Dust to eat and dust to breathe and dust to drink. Dust in the beds and in the flour bin, on dishes and walls and windows, in hair and eyes and ears and teeth and throats.”
Setting texts exclusively from newspaper articles, diaries, and first-hand oral accounts of survivors, the Dust Bowl pieces together nearly a decade of human struggle, hopefulness, and perseverance in the face of constant catastrophe. From fatal dust pneumonia to plagues of jackrabbits and grasshoppers, the performances of the Dust Bowl are honest and raw.
In collaboration with bluegrass band, video projection, and choreographed movement, Verdigris Ensemble world premieres stories of that time period through previously unexplored mediums and asks the question: how did this happen and have we learned from our mistakes?
This production is part of the following series: