Dramatic Writing and Climate Change

Institution: Northwestern University

Instructor: Kristin Idaszak

Description: Artists have the opportunity to grapple with the most complex problems facing our communities. Whether we define community in a local, national, or global context, climate change is radically shifting our world right now. How can the tools of dramatic storytelling be used to combat the issues of climate change? How can writers subvert binaries such as man versus nature or destruction versus salvation to create nuanced, riveting narratives on ecological themes? How can we interrogate concepts like solastalgia (mourning an ecosystem) and climate justice, and offer aesthetic antidotes to the “issue play” approach to climate change narratives? We will explore these questions using examples ranging from Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard to Pixar’s WALL-E in conjunction with scientific, journalistic, and historical research as templates for our own dramatic imaginations. Through weekly labs and writing prompts, writers will generate material for a full-length work (play, screenplay, or pilot).

Level: Both undergraduate and graduate

Timing: Taught in the spring quarter.

Country: United States