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IT'S NOT OVER! If you would still like to support Climate Change Theatre Action 2019, we welcome your contribution. Simply go to The Arctic Cycle's Donate page and make your gift from there.
Climate Change Theatre Action (CCTA) is a cool participatory project that uses theatre to bring communities together and encourage them to take local and global action on climate. Fifty professional playwrights, representing all continents as well as several cultures and Indigenous nations, are commissioned to write five-minute plays about various aspects of climate change. This collection of plays is then made available to international producing collaborators, who are invited to present an event in their community during the project's time window.
To emphasize the “Action” part of Climate Change Theatre Action, collaborators are also urged 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.
Using the theme "Lighting the Way," CCTA 2019 will be presented September 15-December 20, 2019 to coincide with the United Nations COP 25 meetings – the international meetings that bring together world leaders to discuss strategies to reduce global carbon emissions.
Have You Done This Before?
Yes, we have! CCTA was born in 2015 as an effort to put more climate change stories into the world and give communities tools to host conversations about this topic. We had no money – zero, zip, nada – and didn't quite know what we were doing but we managed to put together this amazing thing that developed a life of its own and resulted in over 80 events in 23 countries.
Emboldened by our success, we brought CCTA back in 2017. With better planning and generous support from the Compton Foundation, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), and York University, we increased our reach to 140 events in over 20 countries. In the US alone, more than 90 events were presented in 41 states. We reached 12,000 people and the plays were shown a combined total of 750 times.
What's Unique About CCTA?
It's fun, it's participatory, it's global. Anyone can organize an event and design it to serve their own community.
It's multidisciplinary! Plays may be presented as readings or full productions, read on radio or podcasts, adapted into films or livestreamed. They may be presented in combination with music, poetry, dance – anything!
Sometimes it takes place in theatres, sometimes not. Previous venues have included parks, churches, schools, universities, libraries, backyards, marshlands, community centers, coffee shops and bars, yoga studios, street corners, and the foot of glaciers.
It often engages new audiences such as Waste Water and Water Treatment workers in Montana; homeless youth in London; refugees in Denmark; kids in New York City, Iran, and Nigeria; faith communities in Washington State; unsuspecting passersby in Brazil, New Zealand, and the UK; and lots of university students in every corner of the world.
It brings together people from different fields and disciplines, builds community, and generates hope.
It encourages leadership and self-determination, and empowers people to harness their own creative potential and put it in service of the greater good.
It provides a point of entry into a conversation that is often difficult and overwhelming, and it makes theatre relevant.
What's the Plan?
CCTA is a 16-month marathon of an endeavor that starts with the commissioning of the 50 playwrights and ends with the publication of an anthology (that's right, we forgot to say – we publish all 50 plays in an anthology at the end of the project so they can continue to circulate). This is what our timeline looks like:
January 2019: The 50 playwrights are commissioned.
March 2019: The 50 plays are edited, finalized, and saved in a dropbox.
April 2019: We start actively recruiting collaborators and making the plays available to them so they can plan their event. We reach out to potential collaborators via our newsletter and social media, and we do direct outreach to artists, organizations and universities. We also tell everyone we know, and we tell everyone we know to tell everyone they know.
May - August 2019: The recruitment of collaborators continues. We get buried in emails and spreadsheets but rejoice at all the wonderful events being planned. We also kill ourselves trying to get all 50 states in the US represented because we want to make a STATEMENT!
September 15, 2019: We officially kick off CCTA 2019 with the New York Launch. Woohoo! This celebratory event brings together NYC people from the arts, the sciences, and everywhere in-between to laugh and reflect and talk and take action. Drinks are involved. Worldwide CCTA events begin.
September - December, 2019: We thought we were buried in emails and spreadsheets before? Ha! That was nothing. As events continue worldwide, we correspond with writers and collaborators, answer questions, populate the map on our website, publicize events, gather photos, videos, and feedback, wonder why the hell we are doing this then remember that we love it because we get to watch something really amazing happen that has the potential to make the world a tiny bit better.
December 20, 2019: CCTA presentations end. We breathe a sigh of relief. Maybe we feel a bit of postpartum depression. But we still have another four weeks of gathering and organizing material before we can truly say it's over, so that keeps us busy.
January - March 2020: We prepare the manuscript for publication. This includes writing an introduction, commissioning essays, editing and proofreading the plays, formatting the manuscript, and working with a graphic designer to design the cover and inside pages.
April 2020: The anthology is published. Yay! 50 new plays about climate change go out into the world. For two and a half minutes, we celebrate our accomplishments... And then we get ready to do it all over again in 2021.
Now for the Numbers
Our total budget is $90,000. To put it in context, that's the cost of a modest theatre production in New York City that employs 10-15 artists and reaches – assuming a full house for 24 performances in a 199-seat theatre – a little under 5,000 people. In contrast, CCTA works with 2,000 artists and organizers, and reaches 10,000 people worldwide.
We're asking you to help us raise $15,000 (that's 16% of our budget).
This will allow us to get CCTA under way in January 2019 by commissioning our playwrights and translators (a handful of plays will be written by non-English speakers). The rest of the budget – which we are in the process of raising – will cover project management and coordination, marketing and publicity, a kick-off event in New York City, and the design and publication of the anthology.
Join us! You'll be supporting the arts and helping to address climate change. Double good karma!
Consider also liking us on Facebook.
Chantal Bilodeau is the Artistic Director of The Arctic Cycle, and a playwright and translator whose work focuses on the intersection of arts, science, policy, and climate change. Her work has been presented in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Italy, Finland, and Norway. Awards include the Woodward International Playwriting Prize as well as First Prize in the Earth Matters on Stage Ecodrama Festival and the Uprising National Playwriting Competition. Author of the eight plays (two finished, four upcoming) of The Arctic Cycle, she has written about the intersection of arts and climate change for publications in the US and abroad, and has been a guest speaker at universities from coast to coast. She curates the HowlRound series Theatre in the Age of Climate Change and is an artistic collaborator in the Science & Arts Project at IIASA in Vienna.
Ian Garrett is Director of CSPA, and a designer, producer, educator, and researcher in the field of sustainability in arts and culture. Ian is an Associate Professor of Ecological Design for Performance at York University in Toronto. He is a member of USITT, OISTAT and ADC, and is curator for the US entry into the 2019 Prague Quadrennial. He is an EcoScenographer whose design and production work ranges from integrating renewable energy into performance design to taking design out into the world to show how we perform ecological issues. His work includes the solar powered, Vox:Lumen and Ascension. Ian’s writing include the monograph "Arts, the Environment, and Sustainability" for the Americans for the Arts’s New Community Visions Initiative; "The Carbon Footprint of Theatrical Production," published in Readings in Performance and Ecology from Palgrave McMilian, and the paper "Theatre is No Place for a Plant" in Landing Stages from the Ashden Directory.
Julia Levine is Artistic Producer of The Arctic Cycle, and a theatre artist based in New York City. Her work involves collaborative processes and explorations of the twenty-first century, with particular attention to environmental concerns. She is a regular writer for Artists & Climate Change and a co-organizer with Climate Change Theatre Action. As a director, Julia has worked with companies that consider political and cultural topics, including Theater In Asylum, Honest Accomplice Theatre, and Superhero Clubhouse. Julia is on the Marketing team at HERE, and has worked administratively for The Foundry Theatre, The TEAM, and others. Julia creates with her performance-based initiative, The UPROOT Series, to bring questions of food, climate, and justice into everyday life.
Sophie Traub is an award-winning actor, performing artist, theater/film creator, and the Programming Director of The School of Making Thinking -- an artist-led organization offering summer residencies, year-round classes and peer mentorship. She is also a research assistant for ToasterLab and GROUNDWORKS Performance Project at Alcatraz with Dancing Earth. She is currently completing her Masters in Theatre and Performance Studies at York University in Toronto, where her research focuses on the politics of cultural production, anti-oppression, and group dynamics in collaboration and the classroom. As a performing artist, in addition to extensive film acting credits, Sophie has performed at Cucalorus Festival, Performance Philosophy Conference, Dixon Place, The Brick Theater, the Norman Felix Gallery, Artscape Gibralter Point, the Microscope Gallery, and The Last Weekend Arts Festival.
We're also working with four advisors who will help us identify playwrights and provide general advice: Reneltta Arluk (Banff Centre, Canada), Roberta Levitow (Theatre Without Borders, US), Giovanni Ortega (Pomona College, US), and Elspeth Tilley (Massey University, New Zealand).
Finally, this year we're very excited to partner with Brooke Wood, PhD candidate in Fine Arts at Texas Tech University. Brooke will design a research study that will determine if artworks focused on climate change have a discernible impact on people’s perceptions of climate change and their motivations to take action.
What People Are Saying...
"We addressed the issue of feeling overwhelmed and also, the ways in which we alleviate our own guilt without making any actual change ourselves. ... We finished the event by creating vows about how we would make changes in our lives and our art practice for the future. It was fantastic."
—Alison Bennett, CCTA 2017 Collaborator, Hurrah Hurrah, Sydney, Australia
“One of the most positive aspects of putting on this event was the community-building that took place, which – it seems to me – will have a considerable ripple effect, affecting the spirit of this university and its relationship with the surrounding community.”
— Nelson Gray, 2015 CCTA Collaborator, Vancouver Island University, Canada
“I chose to participate in this project because I didn’t believe that there was an option NOT to participate as a responsible world citizen. Climate change is an issue that should be in the forefront of everyone’s mind - we can’t replace our planet, we have to take care of it.”
— Amina Henri, 2015 CCTA Playwright, US
“I am participating in this project as one link between the world community and the community of my immediate friends and relations. As with the neurons and synapses in our own brains, the more connections we make, the more we are united as one consciousness.”
— Hiro Kanagawa, 2017 CCTA Playwright, Canada
Risks and challenges
We've got this. We've done it before, we can do it again.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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