Activists staged a puppet show at a BP gas station on North Broad Street Wednesday on the first anniversary of the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, which triggered the worst oil spill in U.S. history. But the street theater piece had trouble attracting an audience.
Robin Markle played the role of an oil company executive who has cozy relationships with elected officials. She dressed in a rumpled suit, with a giant papier-mâché puppet head in one hand, and a cocktail glass filled with crude oil in another. The oil is actually “chocolate sauce.”
“When people march through the street holding a sign, people see it and it’s a downer, to be honest,” said Markle, a member of the environmental group Rising Tide. “There are so many awful things happening all the time, it’s hard for people to want to think about that. By making it fun for people, they think, ‘This is entertaining and it makes me think, wow, it has been a year since the oil spill happened.'”
Few people stopped to watch the show unfold on the corner of Broad and Parrish streets. Those that did were more concerned about the natural gas fracking in Pennsylvania than drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.
“I’m just concerned about my drinking water,” said Reggie Hawkins, a student at Philadelphia Community College, waving a water bottle. “My spigot water here.”
The activists from a variety of environmental groups–including the Energy Action Coalition and the Clean Air Council–were using the anniversary of the BP oil spill to address a host of concerns, from corporate bailouts to pollution.