LCC students portray climate change through imaginative lens


Since 2015, the Climate Change Theatre Action festival has been produced biennially to coincide with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change’s Conference of the Parties. This year’s theme was “All Good Things Must Begin,” a quote from famed science-fiction writer Octavia Butler. Lansing Community College was one of 65 groups from around the world that participated in the festival, doing so for the first time, and it presented two evenings of five-minute plays, accompanied by informational booths and collective poetry.

The LCC organizers chose six plays from a list of 50 works that were written specifically for the festival by playwrights from across the globe. The playwrights chosen by LCC represented Anishinaabeg territory, Brazil, Canada, Kenya and the United States, with another play by a Detroit playwright. Melissa Kaplan, LCC’s academic and arts outreach coordinator, told the LCC student newspaper, The Lookout, that more than 150 students were involved in this inaugural festival.

I attended the second evening of the performances on Saturday night (Dec. 2) and found the event to be an intimate exploration of hope. It was the first of what I expect will be many Climate Change Theatre Action events on campus. Since these shows were presented by student actors, my only note is to speak up! For those of us on the side of the thrust, we had a little trouble hearing. That being said, I believe the plays offered a new way to think about climate change by showcasing the special skill cultivated by artists that’s often blunted by stress, chaos and capitalism — I’m talking about imagination.

The short plays were at their best as students acted out, with vivid intensity, a vision of New York City populated by pedestrians instead of cars, crawling with plants instead of trees and powered by solar panels instead of stinking of garbage. Or when portraying the Native American legend of the Thunderbird and the distress of climate change that cuts underneath spoken language and is communicated in symbols. We’re going to need plenty more imagination in the years to come, and I applaud the LCC staff, faculty and students who took action to participate in this event that brings the global response to climate change home to us.

Beyond a small theater festival with big potential, I saw young, talented students building a strong foundation in the skills that theater teaches — and the skills that we’re going to need to get through this climate crisis: collaboration, listening, responding, persuading, creating, storytelling and taking action.


No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here

Connect with us