cullud wattah was a powerful play that showed how water can hurt individuals if it is neglected. cullad wattah written by Erika Dickerson-Despenza and directed by Rachel H. Dickson, was centered around the Flint, Michigan water crisis with a small cast of five Black women who represented three different generations. The play starred Aryana Green, Reyna Janelle, Jessica Jaye, Tyne Jeanae, and Brenda “Bebe” Wilson. The play detailed how the Flint, Michigan crisis impacted each of these women as they navigated their way through everyday life without access to clean water. From cooking, to bathing, brushing teeth, and washing hands, just to name a few, the play highlighted the struggle of doing these small things that we don’t think much about. Water is the source of life and plays an important part of our daily life, and this play did a good job of making you think about if this was your life, how would you be impacted?
If you don’t know anything about the Flint, Michigan water crisis, it all started back in 2014 when the city decided to save money from switching its drinking water supply from Detroit’s system to the Flint River. Due to inadequate treatment and testing of the water, many individuals suffered, including children, where doctors found evidence of elevated blood lead levels. The neglected water also caused rashes, hair loss, itchy skin, and even Legionnaires’ disease.
The people who suffered the most were Black people in underserved areas. The government ignored the complaints of the residents of how the water smelled foul and was discolored. Even though it was obvious that there was something wrong with the water, officials continued to say the water was “safe.”
cullud wattah was a very emotional play, and the acting was phenomenal. It had very sad moments, but a little comedic relief sprinkled throughout. Although it was a bit lengthy, the play held your interest and kept you engaged. In addition, the set was very simple, but it worked. Surrounding the entire set was bottled water that was colored. Every day, the women in the play would document the water and what it looked like for that day.
I truly loved the message of the play and how throughout the play, water would run in the background, just so you wouldn’t forget how water plays a vital role in our daily lives. It has been noted that Flint, Michigan does have clean water and that the infrastructure has been fixed. However, it has been hard for residents to truly trust anything they have been told and if they are truly “safe.”
What happened in Flint, Michigan should have never happened, and it is sad that the residents there will live with the lasting effects of this crisis for the rest of their lives. This play has made me think about the water my family is consuming, how water is tested, and what you should look out for if your water is contaminated. We must learn from the Flint, Michigan crisis and do what we can to make sure this doesn’t happen again. The next time you take a sip of water, think twice about what you’re drinking, and if you have access to clean water, don’t take it for granted.