All Good Things Must Begin

sculpture: "Year 7: Cedar Window"

Cody Chancellor’s sculpture “Year 7: Cedar Window” is part of The Only Animal’s project “Thousand Year Theatre”.

In last week’s edition of my e-letter, FRESH SHEET, I invited readers to share knowledge about their favourite environmentally themed plays and theatrical resources. Dramaturg Kathleen Flaherty came through big time.

She turned me on to Climate Change Theatre Action. Launched in 2015 by playwrights Chantal Bilodeau and Elaine Avila among others, this international initiative commissions 50 playwrights every second year to write short scripts — five minutes is the goal — about the climate crisis. These scripts are then available to folks to present, royalty-free, during the time period of a virtual festival. This year’s festival runs from September 17 to December 23. Its theme is “All Good Things Must Begin”.

Climate Change Theatre Action has also produced three anthologies of work drawn from previous festivals.

Kathleen also reminded me of Sunny Drake’s international podcast series of short plays, Climate Change and Other Small Talk. She particularly recommends Drake’s Absolutely Nothing of Any Meaning, Carmen Aguirre’s Rolling Hills, Green Pastures, and especially Ram Ganesh Kanatham’s Nothing Happens, in which a nuclear submarine in the Indian Ocean receives bizarre new orders and two sonar operators face existential threats.

On a roll, Kathleen also sent this link to Vancouver playwright Jordan Hall’s audio piece The Split, a proposed pilot episode for a science fiction podcast.

The Split is produced by The Only Animal, which is also associated with the Artist Brigade, “a leaderless national movement” dedicated to bringing “imagination, vision and the heart of artists into the telling of the climate story in order to mobilize a society paralyzed by climate anxiety and grief.” These are the folks behind the green-heart placards that made such an impact at Greta Thunberg’s Vancouver rally.

The Only Animal imagines another of its initiatives, The Thousand Year Theatre, enduring for a millennium. Here’s a video about a couple of the projects embedded in that undertaking. This set of offerings is situated in the proposed expanded area of Mt. Elphinstone Provincial Park.

Kathleen’s mention of Jordan Hall reminded me of Hall’s Kayak, an earlier climate-related script. The play’s environmentally conservative central character, Annie, sits in a kayak for the entire performance, lost, dehydrated and sunburnt, remembering and hallucinating scenes with her beloved son and his (to her) annoyingly activist girlfriend. Here’s my review from 2013. This play deserves more productions.

Many thanks to Kathleen for her informed response!

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