‘Trestle’ explores class, violence & sex in America

By: Lindsey White,  Department of Performing and Media Arts
February 17, 2017

When: March 3, 4, 10 & 11 at 7:30 p.m.; March 11 at 2:00 p.m.

Where: Flex Theatre, Schwartz Center for the Performing Arts


Every day after school in rural Kentucky, working-class teens Dalton Chance and Pace Creagan meet beneath the railway bridge at Pope Lick Creek to practice running the track. A prospectless future emboldens the pair to play chicken with an oncoming train. When Pace turns up dead, all eyes turn to Dalton. Did he murder her? Or is there another explanation?

Partly based on real events, The Trestle at Pope Lick Creek by MacArthur genius award winner Naomi Wallace draws on the playwright’s experiences growing up in Kentucky; the play will run March 3–11 at Cornell’s Schwartz Center. The real Pope Lick Creek runs through Louisville and is home to a massive railroad bridge that has been the scene of tragic deaths similar to the incident central to Wallace’s play. Nick Fesette, a PhD candidate in Cornell University’s Department of Performing and Media Arts, directs The Trestle at Pope Lick Creek and explains that Wallace recalls historical and personal events “as a metaphor to reflect on class, gender, and the violence of poverty during the Great Depression.”

Fesette says his small but cohesive cast of Cornell undergraduate actors takes on the challenging material with an infectious energy. The excitement partly stems from the playwright’s method of presenting events in a cinematic, nonlinear manner that builds tension among the audience.

“Wallace’s plays aren’t widely produced in the States, but she’s regarded as one of America’s best contemporary playwrights, particularly in Europe,” explains Fesette. “Her work is strange, lyrical, and political at the same time, and she typically examines major moments in history from the perspectives of ordinary people in order to stage how we can today assert agency to make social change.”

Performances of The Trestle at Pope Lick Creek are in the Schwartz Center for the Performing Arts’ Flex Theatre March 3, 4, 10 & 11 at 7:30 p.m. and March 11 at 2:00 p.m. Tickets are available at www.schwartztickets.com or at the Schwartz Center box office Tuesday–Saturday, 2:30 p.m.–8:00 p.m. The Schwartz Center for the Performing Arts is located at 430 College Avenue in Ithaca.