Juneauites use performances to urge climate action

Over 100 people turned out Saturday for theater, arts, ice cream and environmental activism at Mayor Bill Overstreet Park in support of reducing carbon emissions. A joint project from environmental group 350Juneau and Theater Alaska, the Climate Fair for a Cool Planet featured environmental-themed performances from local actors and students.

The fair was an effort to combine awareness about what 350Juneau board member Michael Tobin called climate catastrophe, pointing to recent events like wildfires in the Lower 48 and flooding in Germany, with local arts and family-friendly environmental education. In addition to the performances, fair organizers set up an “invention station” for small children to build new objects out of recycled materials.

“It’s a way for kids to be creative without using creative materials,” said Linda Torgensen, who was running the station. “It’s trying to teach them don’t throw anything away you don’t have to because it can be used in another way.”

Performances included an original dance, several short plays and a theatrical recitation of environmental activist Greta Thunberg speeches by three Juneau students.

[Live theater meets climate catastrophe-focused message in new event]

Theater Alaska director Christina Apathy said she chose pieces that were very different from one another and touched on different issues relating to climate change.

“It was intentional that we chose a piece that included indigenous philosophy and from around the world,” Apathy told the Empire. “We like to travel even if were not physically traveling around the globe.”

One of the plays, “A Miraculous Party,” was written by Juneau-born Conor Lendrum, another came from a playwright in New Zealand and the piece “Blood on the Leaves” was written by Madeline Sayet, a citizen of the Mohegan Tribe and the executive director of the Yale Indigenous Performing Arts Program.

The fair was the second collaboration between 350Juneau and Theater Alaska, Apathy said, and while there were no concrete plans in the works she expected the two groups would partner again.

“We think that theater can really augment the message of things that are happening such as climate change,” Apathy said. “It’s really nice when theater moves from entertainment into the realm of being an excuse to talk about social issues.”

• Contact reporter Peter Segall at psegall@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @SegallJnuEmpire.

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