USE YOUR CLIMATE LENSES and
JOIN THE CONVERSATION
Theatre Without Borders is excited to support theatre and performance artists around the world who are working at the intersection of art and the climate/environment. This burgeoning field is growing, and fast! Here are a number of ways YOU can get more informed and get more involved:
CLIMATE LENS is a network of theatre makers and culture workers who pursue an imaginatively expansive approach to the phenomena of climate chaos, seeking new perspectives that include but also move beyond questions of politics and policy–and beyond expressions of fear, anger, and despair.
Instead of focusing on climate change as a problem, we try to uncover and disrupt the habits of mind and feeling that produce and support ecological devastation. The primary target of our critique is not climate change but rather anthropocentrism, the world view that places human beings and their interests at the center of every reality, and which sanctions the same hierarchical thinking that also sustains sexism, racism, and injustice.
Like past progressive movements, we believe it is vital to develop new modes of analysis as well as confronting problems. Just as feminism, for example, used gender as a lens to reveal and resist patriarchy, the underlying source of sexism, CLIMATE LENS proposes climate as the clarifying lens through which to reveal and resist anthropocentrism and human exceptionalism.
CLIMATE LENS explores theatrical ways of partnering with the more-than-human world: the world of landscapes, oceans, plants, the other animals, and natural forces like the climate. Through these partnerships, which we pursue both imaginatively and in activist practice, we seek to expose, disrupt, and replace the myopia and alienation that currently limits and lethally distorts the relationship between us humans and the countless life forms and forces which whom we share the earth.
CLIMATE LENS PLAYBOOK
- Practice literalism. End the tradition of turning everything into a symbol for human life.
- Occupy science. Befriend facts and factoids. Enrich theatre with the bristly nomenclatures of the natural sciences.
- Yes to vastness, and yes also to the infinitesimal. Toggle between the Big Picture and Reality-at-Hand, however tiny. Also between Deep History and the Here and Now. Do the Scalar Slide.
- Practice Glocality: intense focus on our localities, but with global eyes in the back our heads, scanning for interrelatedness and beaming signals out to other localities–consciously, urgently.
- Loosen your epistemologies. Don’t believe everything you think.
- Flatten your ontologies. Everyone and everything invited in.
- Unflatten your geographies. What happens here doesn’t stay here. The Far Away folds right onto the Right Here. Make plays with pleated places.
- Take all animals seriously, not just human ones. Also plants, including weeds, nettles, hemlock. . . Also minerals, rocks, currents of all kinds, clouds, winds, and other atmospheric forces. Also bacteria. Especially bacteria.
- Disaggregate the human. Who drives the carbon economy? Who profits? Who suffers?
- Don’t worry about working up empathy. Sympathy’s all you need. Feeling for others is just as powerful—and less anthropocentric?—than feeling with others.
- De-Sentimentalize “Nature.” Keep the awe, lose the “Awww!!!” Forge new affective pathways to the non-human, beyond sadness, guilt, and fear. Invite in humor, anger, joy, irony, sarcasm . . .
- Stand alongside our fellow species like a breathing exercise, to open up space in our cells for epistemologies of the biosphere that our bodies currently don’t hold, or ones we need to re-ignite. Physicalize awe.
- Congregate, coalesce, flock, swarm, meet and greet. But also: disperse, disseminate, distribute, scatter and spread.
- Biology over psychology, geology over sociology, creaturely life over life style.
- Invent plans as well as plots, tell times as well as stories, write worlds as well as plays.
- Create theatres of species life; fill the stage with the Earth.
By Una Chaudhuri, with members of CLIMATE LENS (see list below)
THE CLIMATE COMMONS
The Climate Commons grew out of the HowlRound “Theatre in the Age of Climate Change” Convening in Boston, June 2018. Stay tuned for this coming resource for the arts & climate community!
The 2019 TCG/Theatre Communications Group National Conference Committee on Climate offers resources that will help everyone research and learn more about how your work as individuals and organizations can build towards climate justice. The list is not comprehensive, but it is a starting place. The wide range of topics and ideas covered reflect our understanding that material impact can only go so far in a capitalist culture, which is fueled by the notion of unlimited growth and is deeply intertwined with colonialism and the historic and continued oppression of BIPOC. Climate change is founded upon and exacerbates these existing social injustices and inequities. Across the globe, those who are least responsible for the climate crisis are impacted by it the most. “Sustainability” and “combating climate change” must include deliberate, robust action toward climate justice within ourselves, our organizations, and our communities.
Green New Theatre (Groundwater Arts)
Eco-Theater Manifesto (Superhero Clubhouse)
Love the Everglades (Houston Cypress)
Theatre Without Borders partners every two years with the global CLIMATE CHANGE THEATRE ACTION. You can too!
Founded in 2015, Climate Change Theatre Action is a worldwide series of readings and performances of short climate change plays presented biennially to coincide with the United Nations COP meetings. CCTA was founded following a model pioneered by NoPassport Theatre Alliance. It has since evolved into a collaboration between The Arctic Cycle, the Center for Sustainable Practice in the Arts, and Theatre Without Borders. A global participatory project, CCTA uses theatre to bring communities together and encourage them to take local and global action on climate. By providing tools (a series of plays) free of charge, some guidance on how to produce events, marketing support, and a model that encourages leadership and self-determination, we make it easy for everyone to engage with an art form they may not be familiar with, and we empower them to harness their own creative potential and put it in service of the greater good.
Want to join up with some of the other important organizations leading the climate change response?
Want to produce a play written by artists exploring climate themes?
Want to learn more about Climate Justice theory and practice?
Want to read about “Theatre in the Age of Climate Change”?
Want to discover popular songs and videos related to Climate Change?
Want to find funders focused on climate-related projects?
Want to learn about which theatre companies are producing this work?
Stay tuned. Our list is in-progress!
WHO ARE THE MEMBERS OF THE CLIMATE LENS and CLIMATE COMMONS?