Posts Tagged ‘ecoTheater


‘Connecting the Frontal Cortext to the Solar Plexus’: The Ashden Directory’s Contribution to EMOS

The folks over at The Ashden Directory participated in this year’s Earth Matters on Stage at the University of Oregon from afar — an act borne of the desire to contribute to the conference/symposium without flying across the globe to do so.

Here is a DVD they produced in order to introduce their session. It’s a stand-alone piece of work, with fantastic insight. I think my favorite moment is when Mojisola Adebayo says that many theater artists believe that theater is “inherently good for you, therefore theater makers inherently do good.” She goes on: “I don’t think any of us think our work could be harmful in anyway.” When will we, as theater artists, admit that our work can be, and often is, harmful?

Vodpod videos no longer available.


Theater Matters – notes from Earth Matters on Stage 2009 part I

Okay, so I can’t keep my nose out of it…

I’m here in beautiful Eugene, Oregon attending the 2009 Earth Matters on Stage: A Symposium on Theatre & Ecology at the University of Oregon. Last night was the official beginning of the event with keynote speaker Una Chaudhuri giving a talk on what she has dubbed Zooesis, or the discourse of animals (or, rather non-humans) in the media.

As I emerged from the talk I looked at Ian Garrett of the Center for Sustainable Practice in the Arts and Moe Beitiks of the Green Museum Blog and said: “I’m not smart enough to be here.” Which is to say if the opening moment of EMOS 2009 is a reliable indicator, it will be a highly academic affair. Chaudhuri was followed by obligatory phases of mingling with strangers (not my forte) while smugly observing the corn-based disposable cups, paper plates and napkins, an engaging, often heart wrenching (though also quite academic) play by EM Lewis called Song of Extinction, and the most structured post show discussion (aka talkback) I’ve ever participated in, led by Cal State LA professor and playwright Jose Cruz Gonzalez. Part of me thought, “oh, I shouldn’t have stuck around for this.” It had the effect of stifling the power of the play, and its masterly intertwined themes. I jotted on my program during the talkback this tidbit: “Robbing the visceral through incessant deconstruction.” But that’s my own problem, right?

More later…


In the Audience

I’ve worked in theater in some form or another since high school. I have had a bad habit throughout my life in theater of being the type who says (or at least thinks) “I don’t want to go watch theater, I see so much of it from backstage, from the booth, I see it in rehearsals all day long…” So, I don’t sit in the audience much.

Now, because of the illness that blindsided me over a year ago, I really feel like a spectator sitting in the audience watching the future of green, eco-responsible theater rushing by in flashes. It’s difficult to do. So much has happened in the last few months, and ecoTheater has missed it. People close to me will roll their eyes when they find that as I write this lament I am sitting in a hospital room in Indianapolis waiting for my second and final round of high dose chemotherapy to commence. “Who cares about green theater?” they will ask.

I won’t lie — it isn’t that difficult to realize that I’ve missed out on reporting on the big Broadway initiative, supported as it is by the mayor of New York City, or the up and coming Center for Sustainable Practice in the Arts (CSPA) (founded and driven by Ian Garrett, a regularly mentioned activist on ecoTheater), or the fast approaching Earth Matters on Stage (EMOC) at the University of Oregon, or, or, or…

I mean, it’s easy enough to see that there are bigger things to consider in my life right now. But, what can I say? For once, I hate being just a spectator. It’s like sitting through hours of rehearsal, not saying a word to anyone, and not participating in any way in the production.

For now, I have taken a leave of absence from my job with CTM and have done very little “work” of any kind in the last month or so. The only project I have spent time on is the Cancer Stories Project, hopefully the first stage work for the still-being-founded Wisconsin Story Project (WSP), which I hope to be a new model of theater that will take bits and pieces from many idea-makers, heading towards not just ecologically sound theater production, but also aiming to be a model of theater that solves for pattern (or here).

Who knows? Perhaps one day ecoTheater will simply morph into a blog tracking the progress of WSP, and how we’re doing our best to stay green, while tackling other issues that plague today’s so-called regional theater.

But no matter what I’ll be back here writing soon. So, don’t forget about me…


interruption: an unexpected note to my readers

My focus has been pulled inward yet again by cancer. To be brief, I was diagnosed with testicular cancer last year and underwent some brutal treatment to get rid of it. After months of believing that we had succeeded in thwarting the disease, it has returned. This week I will be undergoing a series of tests to determine the status of the cancer, and will be focusing most of my attention and energy on dealing with my health and recovery for an undetermined length of time.

I may be back in a week, a month, I don’t know.

Wish me luck, and if you are interested in knowing more about how cancer affects a life as both a teacher and an unwanted guest go to my cancer blog, The C Word. I would also encourage you to visit the American Cancer Society, the Lance Armstrong Foundation, or Stand Up 2 Cancer and offer your support in any way you can. The number of people that cancer affects in this country alone is staggering. Donate money. Volunteer. Learn.

Thanks for reading.


Earth Matters On Stage

Thanks to a gentle Facebook reminder, I wanted to remind everyone about next year’s Earth Matters On Stage — especially now that they have a great site up and running online (which they didn’t when I first announced their call for proposals back in March).

The EMOS Ecodrama Playwrights Festival and Symposium will be held in May of 2009 at the University of Oregon in Eugene. They are still seeking both play submissions (deadline November 1, 2008) and symposium proposals (deadline January 1, 2009).


Where Was I? NYTW and ecoTheater

While I’m glad that I was able to get the word out on the trouble at New York Theatre Workshop (NYTW) over the weekend — and flattered that people (bloggers are people too) have actually used the phrase “scooped the NY Times” to describe my original post on April 12 (twice) — and amazed that views of my site have been absolutely through the roof this week (on Monday I had hits equaling nearly 15 times my previous record) — the fact remains that I’m not a news blogger per se.

While I’m bothered immensely that NYTW fired six hardworking tech theater artists, I have to admit that what bothers me most about the whole affair is the loss of Michael Casselli and what he could have done with those eco-friendly shop facilities that NYTW is about to build. He was, by far in my estimation, the single most green theater practitioner that I know of. That is, while there are plenty others out there making moves in the right direction, most are doing so theoretically (such as yours truly), and while many have had a hand in various acts of sustainability, Casselli was committed to the idea, and committed to doing everything he could to make NYTW the most sustainable theater operation in the country.

But that hope has been dashed along with others in the last week.

Another admittedly self-indulgent disappointment of mine during this NYTW affair has been the realization that while I have increased my readership (albeit probably briefly) in a flash, none of the increased traffic has anything to do with my purpose here on ecoTheater: to promote eco-responsibile, sustainable theater production practices. My hope is that while many of the NYTW gossip hounds were here, they managed to have a look around and see what this ecoTheater thing is really all about.

If, in fact, you are one of those readers, here to see what all the fuss is about over NYTW, and have never thought about what sustainable, green, eco-friendly theater means, I’d suggest you check out ecoTheater’s greenList, or take a look at this post on theatrical lighting in all of its power hog-ness, or this one about how London’s theater scene seems to be way ahead of the U.S. in greening up their operations, or this entry detailing part of a conversation I had with Larry Fried and Thersa May, co-authors of the book Greening Up Our Houses — or, check out their book! Those posts are just a taste of what I’ve been trying to get American theater artists to discuss since I started this blog last summer.

Soon, I will get back to the task at hand and put up some useful posts that I was working on when the NYTW news broke in my email-box. For now, to all of you new readers, I hope you enjoy the blog, and please do let me know what you think.

what’s in a color?

"It should be about different kinds of symbols than the color green—wind farms, solar, renewable-energy laboratories, those things that are symbolic of the new energy economy. People think that we overuse the concept of green, and it could become trite in its expression.”
“This idea about green in a lot of people’s minds still conjures up this notion of a fringe or something that’s out-there. It doesn’t inspire this notion of a new America. It just seems more substantive than a color.” - Colorado governor Bill Ritter, Jr. in The New Yorker
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