FringeNYC 2014: Dust Can't Kill Me. Abigail Carney.

Photo by Dorothy Carney

Photo by Dorothy Carney

What inspired this piece? What inspires you?

Elliah and I decided we wanted to write a folk musical and then we hung out and talked about what kind of story we wanted to tell. We were inspired by the music and the people of the Dust Bowl. There are a lot of moments in the show that come directly from research I did into that period.


The Dust Bowl serves as a parable for the kind of environmental, social, and economic disaster we’re headed toward now with climate change. The Dust Bowl was in many ways an environmental disaster: we overworked the land and then our crops failed. But when you listen to the stories of people who lived through the Dust Bowl, they don’t remember it as an environmental disaster, they remember their siblings dying from all the dust getting in their lungs, they remember having to shoot all the town’s cattle because they couldn’t afford to feed them, they remember having nothing to eat. When people are remembering, and living through, climate change one hundred years from now, they aren’t going to think about it as an environmental disaster. Once your home or your city has flooded, once rates of malaria have gone way up, once the economy is struggling even more than it is now, you don’t think about climate change as an environmental disaster.

I don’t think most audience members leaving Dust Can’t Kill Me will think of it in relation to climate change, and that’s okay, we also wanted to write a fun show with great music.

College theater- what does it mean to create with your peers? To be a young artist discovering your voice?

I was reading over the first draft of the first ten pages from Dust Can’t Kill Me recently and even though the basic story is the same, there isn’t one line that we still use. From the beginning, Dust Can’t Kill Me, has been a collaboration and I think the fact that Elliah and I worked out most of the story together before we even started writing is one reason it turned out so well. Leading up to the February production, we did workshop readings and I also made some edits during rehearsal. Then we had the February production to guide us through another round of edits for the version of the show that we’re performing at FringeNYC right now. It’s also been such a joy to watch the actors and designers who were also in the first production continue to develop their roles in and understanding of the show.

Working on Dust Can’t Kill Me has taught me that no matter how important it may be to define and discover my own voice, what I make will be stronger and more interesting if I’m making it with others. Every person who has been a part of this show has given a whole lot to it.

Tell me what these concepts mean to you as a young artist. Belonging? Risking everything?

For Montgomery, the folk singer in Dust Can’t Kill Me, I think belonging means sharing his music and his tales with all the people he meets. It’s important to me to try to do that, and I think that’s what some of what being an artist is, allowing parts of yourself to belong to everybody.

I think art can also feel like a risk for young people because there’s this fear that you aren’t going to make any money, and maybe that’s true, but I also think you’re risking a whole lot when you agree to work twelve hour days for a bank.

$18 tickets

VENUE #7: Theatre 80

WED 8/13 @ 2
THURS 8/14 @ 9:45
FRI 8/15 @ 5:30
SAT 8/16 @ 10
AT 8/23 @ 1