Earth Day is one of the most important days of the year because it reminds us of a most fundamental truth: we belong to the Earth. Like it or not, we are of the Earth. Despite our dizzying technological progress and illusion of separateness, our well-being is still intricately connected to the well-being of all the creatures with whom we share this planet.
There are many ways to celebrate this day. We can (and should!) go outside, soak in the sun, take a walk in the forest or a long bike ride along the river. We can donate to worthwhile environmental organizations or participate in local festivities. Or, if we are short on time, we can at the very least step outside for a minute and take a deep breath.
But a day of appreciation is not enough. Given the urgent social and environmental challenges we are facing, ours is a time for sustained action – as exemplified by the courageous students and activists who have recently taken to the streets. So as an artist and co-organizer of Climate Change Theatre Action, I want to invite you, on Earth Day (or on any day between now and the end of the year), to sign up for a season of theatrical presentations and action taking place this fall between September 15 and December 21, 2019.
Climate Change Theatre Action is is a worldwide series of readings and performances of short climate change plays presented biennially to coincide with the United Nations COP meetings. Through theatre, we bring communities together and encourage them to take local and global action on climate. We providing tools (a series of plays) free of charge, some guidance on how to produce events, marketing support, a model that encourages leadership and self-determination, and empower everyone to harness their creative potential and put it in service of the greater good.
How It Works
Earlier this year, 50 professional playwrights, representing all continents as well as several cultures and Indigenous nations, were commissioned to write five-minute plays about various aspects of climate change under the theme “Lighting the Way.” (In the spirit of celebrating the amazing work that is being done, we are giving center stage to the unsung climate warriors and climate heroes who are lighting the way towards a just and sustainable future.)
This collection of plays is now available to producing collaborators (that’s you!) who might be interested in presenting an event in the fall using one or several plays from the collection. Events can be in-house readings, public performances, radio shows, podcasts, film adaptions – the possibilities are endless! You can design your event to reflect your own aesthetic and community, and include additional material by local artists.
In addition, to emphasize the “Action” part of Climate Change Theatre Action, we urge collaborators to think about an action – educational, social, or political/civic – that can be incorporated into their event. It may involve the scientific community, other departments within a university, local environmental organizations, etc. Examples of actions from previous years include: presentations by scientists; donations to hurricane relief efforts and food banks; conversations with social justice and environmental organizations; writing letters to legislators, and; sharing tools for sustainability at the local level.
Our Track Record
We piloted this project in 2015. Two years later, in 2017, close to 140 collaborators in 23 countries hosted events, reaching an audience of 12,000. In the United States alone, 90 events took place in 60 cities. Plays were read and performed, live and on radio, and presented in a variety of settings including: theatres, high schools, middle schools, universities, yoga studios, community centers, libraries, churches, museums, cafes, bars, people’s living rooms, and outdoors. At the end of the season, the plays were published together in Where Is The Hope? An Anthology of Short Climate Change Plays available from the York University Bookstore.
Now, two years later, we want to continue to bring our communities together to discuss what kind of future we want to create, and put pressure on elected officials and CEOs to do what is right. We want to build on what other dedicated climate warriors are doing to ensure we avoid the worst. And most importantly, we want to help everyone come to terms with the inevitable losses we are facing, and learn to be resilient.
Climate Change Theatre Action is participatory – that means we can’t do it without you. We hope you’ll join us this fall by organizing an event in your community and adding your voice to the countless other voices who are demanding an end to the status quo. Actors, producers, directors, avid arts supporters, and concerned community members from all countries – everyone can participate! Check out our Call for Collaborators for more details and email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to receive the guidelines and access to the plays.
Together, we can do this. Happy Earth Day.
(Top image: The Anthropologists at the CCTA New York Launch in 2017. All photos by Yadin Goldman.)
Previous articles about Climate Change Theatre Action:
What I Learned About Gender Parity and Racial Diversity from Running a Global Participatory Initiative by Chantal Bilodeau
Changing the Climate Narrative Fifty Plays at a Time by Chantal Bilodeau
A Theatrical Revolution of Hope by Alicia Hyland
Graz, Austria: City of Culture… City of Climate Change Communication by Nassim Balestrini
Does Laughter Have a Place Here? by Aysan Celik
Chantal Bilodeau is a playwright whose work focuses on the intersection of science, policy, art, and climate change. She is the Artistic Director of The Arctic Cycle – which uses theatre to foster dialogue about our global climate crisis, create an empowering vision of the future, and inspire people to take action – and the founder of Artists & Climate Change. She is a co-organizer of Climate Change Theatre Action, a worldwide series of readings and performances of short climate change plays presented in support of the United Nations COP meetings.
Artists and Climate Change is a blog that tracks artistic responses from all disciplines to the problem of climate change. It is both a study about what is being done, and a resource for anyone interested in the subject. Art has the power to reframe the conversation about our environmental crisis so it is inclusive, constructive, and conducive to action. Art can, and should, shape our values and behavior so we are better equipped to face the formidable challenge in front of us.
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