Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Schuylkill River Project

Dear Friends,

I want to clean-up The Schuylkill River.

And this is why:

Fairmount Water Works.  America’s first zoo.  George Washington’s army at Valley Forge during the American Revolutionary War.  Olympian John B. Kelly and Princess Grace of Monaco.  Fairmount Park.  And the Philadelphia Museum of Art.  All of these things have participated deeply with the Schuylkill River-- a site that Charles Dickens once called “wondrous to behold”.

Also-- because 1.75 million Pennsylvania residents drink from the river.

As an artist, it’s a passion of mine to develop a performance project that honors the Schuylkill River. 

But most importantly, I wish to express my LOVE for the Schuylkill.  And my desire, above all, to help the river fully express herself by freeing her from some of the pollutants that blight her beauty and her health, quieting her voice.

In short, I want to turn THIS (before):

The Schuylkill River at 2:30 pm on Saturday, October 6th, 2012.  Photo by Sarah Lloyd.

Into THIS (after):

The Schuylkill River at 3:30 pm on Saturday, October 6, 2012.  Photo by Sarah Lloyd.

The transformation documented in these photos took ONE HOUR.

The contents of those four large garbage bags (which also contain over 120 recyclable objects) took only sixty minutes for Sarah Lloyd and I to collect.

I would love to use time every day cleaning up the river.  Every day making the kind of difference that you see in these photos.  And while every day is not quite possible, it is my goal to work on the river for at least 50 – 60 hours from now until the end of 2012.

And I would love people to help me.

If you're interested, and I hope you are, these are the beginning ways we can care for the Schuylkill together:
  • Join me on the river!  As best I can, I will keep this blog site updated about when I am going out on the river.  You can also email me at, and we can communicate that way.  
  • Because I don't have the resources of money, you can donate helpful items.  Most useful: a wagon or wheelbarrow (for hauling trash bags), trash bags (eco-friendly ones if possible), a digital camera (for documenting).  Also useful, especially if a team of volunteers develops: lawn rakes, work gloves, snacks/food, reusable water bottles (non-plastic if possible).  
  • Information.  Maybe you know a convenient recycling or trash drop-off near the river?  Maybe you know the right people to reach out to?  Maybe you know specific areas of the river that need the most attention?
  • Help me document/archive.  My blog site is simple.  Maybe you can help me present this information better.
  • Donate money.  Funds will be used for gathering supplies, providing support for additional volunteers, etc.  Any surplus funds will be used wisely and generously.  You can send money via PayPal to  Or you can mail funds to:  Greg Romero, 322 N 39th St, Philadelphia PA 19104.

Of course, the Schuylkill will thank you more than I ever could, but because I believe in gift-exchange, anyone who helps me care for the river, I happily offer the following gifts in return:

  • I will happily acknowledge you in any creative project that develops from this work and also keep a running list of acknowledgements here.
  • With my finger, I will write your name (and/or a loved one’s, just let me know) into the river, thereby making you part of the river’s stories and history.
  •  I will also do my best to photo-document the process, tracking progress of the clean-up with before and after photos, positive developments, etc.  I will post as much as I can to this blog, and will also be happy to email any information to you directly.

Thank you for your care and generosity—I look forward to doing something beautiful and purposeful with you.


Greg Romero

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

PLASTIC THINGS Plays the Philly Fringe

In September 2012, my all-ages play, Of Plastic Things and Butterfly Wings, ran for seven performances as part of the Philly Fringe Festival, and I couldn't be happier with the experience.

The Oldest Sea Turtle That Ever Lived (Josh Totora), Reginald the Blue Crab (Kevin Chick), and Sam the Plastic Water Bottle (Leslie Nevon Holden).  Photo by Charlotte Jacobson.

Playing before live audiences from September 12 - 16 at the Off-Broad Street Theatre (in the Center City/Rittenhouse area), the play was wonderfully produced by Little Fish Theatre, who also commissioned the play in partnership with Fernbrook Farms Education Center.

I was thrilled by the creative team's imagination, and in their skill and generosity in expressing their highly creative ideas.  Making use of puppets, multiple expressions of size and scale, original live music (played largely on found instruments and on recyclable objects), and audience participation, I found this production to be delightful, surprising, theatrical, purposeful, and really touching-- all things that I hope for with every live performance.

As my first experience creating work for young audiences, I particularly enjoyed the performances which had the most young audience members present.  I had a memorable experience talking with one such audience member after the show, who told me all about everything she saw-- a crab, a pink parrot, a turtle, and a whale-shark (the whale-shark was a surprise to me, which I loved).

I also experienced a wonderful moment when a couple different parents told me that this was the first time their child had seen a play.  Now THAT is awesome.

I also loved seeing several Drexel students in the audience, many of whom helped created this work earlier this year through our exploration in the Winter Studio.

Sam's Father (Kevin Chick) and Sam's Mother (Maryruth Stine) caught in The Gyres.  Photo by Charlotte Jacobson
In general, I am very encouraged to the response to this play-- from its beginning creation in February and March of this year, and from this audiences of the Fringe performances.  I look forward to the play's long life, continuing next with this production's touring performance in late November (to Moorestown Friends School in New Jersey), and with another production run to be created by the fine folks of Space 55 in Phoenix, Arizona, in December.

Big continued thank yous to the Little Fish team for all their excellent work, for believing in me from the beginning, and for creating such a wonderful production that was also completely enjoyable to work on (this team embraced every impossible challenge and, in doing so, made the world way bigger).  Thank yous to Fernbrook Farms.  Thank yous to Drexel University and the Dragons of the Winter Studio.  Thank you, Cara Blouin.  Thank yous to the fine folks of the Off-Broad Street Theatre.  Thank you to Beth Cain, for helping us get the word out about this play.  Thank you to Green Philly Blog for covering the performance.  Thank you to Charlotte Jacobson for the photos.  And big thank yous to all the folks who came out to experience the play.

Much love,