About Zuccotti Park
“Zuccotti Park” is a musical about the human side of economics. Set at its namesake location in New York City during the Occupy protests of late 2011, the play dramatizes the experiences of a broad cross section of Americans whose lives were impacted by the current economic system. In the play, two soldiers, Cooper and Washington, on leave from Afghanistan, visit New York City. Cooper is an Iowa farm boy and Washington, an African-American, New York City native. Cooper has arranged to meet up with Kate, his high school sweetheart, at Zuccotti Park. But unbeknownst to Cooper, the park is ground zero for the Occupy Movement. He finds Kate just as she is being pepper sprayed for assisting a friend during a police raid. Cooper challenges the police for what he sees as unnecessary force, is handcuffed for his efforts, and ends up in jail with the protesters. Despite their radically different worldviews, Cooper finds he is still attracted to grown-up Kate. After Cooper, Kate and the protesters are bailed out, Cooper accepts Kate’s invitation to spend time with her and her fellow protesters at Zuccotti Park. Throughout the play, Cooper and the audience learn the back-stories of the protesters: a homeless veteran, a family buying their first home, a student who can't find a job among others, as well as the opinions of people who profit from the system. The story comes to a head when the police raid the Occupy camp at Zuccotti Park and dismantle it.
Vatrena King, the composer, graduated from Berklee College of Music before becoming a 1st-call session singer. Credits include a costarring singing role on the hit TV show “Ally McBeal,” performing and/or recording with such artists as Melissa Manchester, Rod Stewart, Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, Ray Charles, Barry Manilow & Barry White. In 2000, Vatrena was rated the Top Unsigned Artist by LA’s Music Connection Magazine.
Catherine Hurd, the book writer/lyricist, earned her masters degree in Screenwriting from UCLA and her BFA in Theater from Florida Atlantic University. She’s won several screenwriting awards, and has optioned three feature length scripts in Los Angeles.
Zuccotti Park had its first reading at the Unitarian Church in Davis, CA. Despite the music being only partially complete, the reading was very helpful in determining what worked and did not work in the dialogue. After a script rewrite, author Catherine Hurd, and composer, Vatrena King, with help from event organizer, Poppy Peach, held several more readings, and learned something new from every one. The script was revised accordingly. The final staged reading, with all music completed, was held at the Woodland Opera House, in Woodland, CA, in 2014, in front of a large audience. It received a very positive reception.
Woodland Opera House Reading
After a few more changes based on feedback from the Woodland Opera House reading, Zuccotti Park was entered into the NYC Venus Adonis Theater Festival in 2015. The play was accepted, and Luis Salgado was chosen to direct. Because of festival rules, the playwright cut the play down to 90 minutes from over 2 hours. As it turned out, the slimming down and elimination of songs and dialogue was very helpful to the process. The play moved quickly and held the audience’s interest. In fact, one of the judges wrote: “You sit and time flies. This musical can go anywhere for years. Bravissimo!”
Zuccotti Park was a resounding success in the NYC Venus Adonis Theater Festival. Performances were filled to over capacity for every show. Franco Moschetti, the festival chairman, added an additional show to accommodate the extra audience. But despite this, interest was so high that many people had to be turned away. Zuccotti Park received standing ovations for every performance, and excellent reviews from audience and press. In addition, Zuccotti Park was Best Musical, with a Best Director nod for Luis Salgado.
Zuccotti Park was also a participant in the 2016 New York International Fringe Festival, with most shows performed before sell out crowds in the Flamboyan Theater on Suffolk Street in NYC.
Photo by Victoria Medina
Zuccotti Park was part of the 2016/17 season of theater company “Justice Theater Project,” in Raleigh, NC. The musical fit in nicely with JTP’s seasonal theme of Economic Justice. The play ran for three consecutive weekends in February, with standing ovations for every performance.