Climate Lens: Birth of a Post-Nation!

Under ordinary circumstances, we’d probably have resisted the temptation to announce ourselves with such a grandiose sub-title—or at least followed it with a self-deprecating question mark. But these are hardly ordinary times, and we’re “going big”—and exclamatory!—to counter the odious enormity that’s suddenly at the nation’s helm. Trump Nation, however, only intensifies our post-national impulse; its real source, dating from well before the last election, is the fact that the most pressing political issue of our times crosses all national boundaries. The accelerating symptoms of ecological devastation and climate chaos are global, planetary—post-national. CLIMATE LENS sprouted on January 5, 2017, when a group of theatremakers and educators gathered in New York for a retreat on the topic “Theatre and Climate Change.” The seeds of CLIMATE LENS were the various projects these people had been involved in, over the past several years, that engaged with environmental issues in general and climate in particular. These included Chantal Bilodeau, Una Chaudhuri, Elizabeth Doud, Lanxing Fu, Derek Goldman, Julia Levine, Roberta

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We Are the Climate

The task here is to look at theatre and climate change within the context of the current administration. Yep, that administration. The one that is attempting to eliminate climate consciousness from the national narrative by removing the climate page from the White House website, threatening to slash the EPA by one-third, and green-lighting the Keystone Pipeline project in the face of enormous coordinated dissent. Yep, the one that favors entertainment—heck, the one that is entertainment—but is not at all interested in artworks activating complex, nuanced conversation around current issues, and proposed to eradicate the NEA and the NEH completely from the federal budget. Yep, that administration. Well, shall we start the way we often do? Theatre is a storytelling, community-based phenomenon that manages to survive, if not thrive, on next to nothing and is the perfect means to effectively counter the current administration’s “alternative facts” and erasure, especially in these divisive times…blah, blah climate blah f*cking Trump blah Pruitt EPA zzz blah NEA slashed z zzzz Betsy DeVos zz zzz education

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Requiem for a River: Operatic Reflections on the Euphrates

I am writing this article the day before the Dutch elections. Far-right populist Geert Wilders has been leading the polls, and Turkish-Dutch youngsters are marching the streets waving dramatically large Turkish flags. For the first time in my life, I see military police trucks (and water-tanks) drive past my window. CNN and Al Jazeera discuss the “situation” in the Netherlands. Unimaginable things are happening to my country. I create operas as a platform for dialogue in a multicultural society. My artistic work stems from research on music dramas from around the globe. I was fortunate to be able to do research on a wide range of music-drama practices, for example Tibetan Opera at the Tibetan Institute for Performing Arts; passion play Ta’ziyeh in Iran; and the ancient Maya dance-drama Rabìnal Achi in Guatemala. Ironically, I found the richest traditions in places where cultural identity is under pressure, especially after a history of violence. For example, one of the first official actions the Dalai Lama took when

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Fish Soup, Mourning, and Hope at the End of the World

What does it mean to make theatre for the Anthropocene? (Leaving aside the question of when the Anthropocene started, or whether there’s a better name for it.) Outside of Republicans in Congress and the current administration, there’s wide consensus that changes in the earth’s climate and many of its chemical processes are now driven primarily by human activity. There’s a growing body of writing about fiction for the Anthropocene: there’s even a catchphrase, “cli-fi,” although it’s possible that “all fiction is Anthropocene fiction now, some of it just hasn’t realized it yet,” to paraphrase a Facebook quip by McKenzie Wark. I’m not sure if the same thing can be said for playwriting and theatremaking. For playwriting, a challenge may be that our traditional, Aristotelian narrative structure doesn’t allow us to deal with the problem. Climate change reveals itself over long time scales, often longer than an individual’s lifespan. Its impact is sometimes dramatic and catastrophic, but often incremental, and it

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