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Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

November 22, 2017   |   Ithaca, NY

Life & Culture

Theater performance focuses on environment

From New York to Italy, to England and beyond, international playwrights are engaging in climate control “artivism,” hoping to create global change through art.

The Climate Change Theatre Action, sponsored by the international organizations NoPassport, The Arctic Cycle and Theatre Without Borders, is taking an unconventional approach to environmental activism. This action seeks to bring awareness to the issue of climate change through theater.

Saviana Stanescu Condeescu, assistant professor in the theater arts department at Ithaca College, will lead the college in this theatrical crusade.

Condeescu has joined 49 other well-known playwrights in this Climate Change Theatre Action. Organizers of this monthlong global movement have commissioned 50 professionals to each create a one- to five-minute play, song or poem illustrating the importance of climate change. Each of the 50 participants will hold performance events throughout November and December in preparation for the U.N. Conference on Climate Change in Paris at the end of the month. The kickoff event took place in New York on Nov. 2.

Condeescu’s performance event will feature her original play “The Seagull” as well as two from students in her playwriting course, one from an alum of the college and nine from other playwrights participating in the global action. These plays, performed by students and faculty from the college, are all one- or two-person plays. The performance will be Nov. 6 in the Gannett Center.

Condeescu said she believes this is a great opportunity for students to get involved in global action, and she is glad her students are willing to participate.

“The Seagull” is about climate change and the importance of recycling. In the composition, an actress is auditioning for Anton Chekhov’s play, “The Seagull,” when she sees a real seagull choked by a plastic bottle. The actress discusses recycling and the community’s role in protecting the planet.

“My play is about small things that we can do to play our little role in protecting our world,” Condeescu said.

Condeescu said the event at the college is operating on low-key resources, sometimes rehearsing in her office or open classrooms instead of on the main stage with volunteer performers.

“I really appreciate everyone’s work involved with this,” she said. “We are doing it for the issue, for our artivism, and for the great impact we can have as part of a larger, global initiative.”

The event will also feature a panel discussion with professors from the politics, environmental studies, and physics and astronomy departments. Condeescu said these panelists will represent the interaction between the theater action on the stage and climate change.

“I wanted this action to also be an intersection between arts and sciences,” Condeescu said. “It’s a great opportunity to merge the two in a meaningful experience like this.”

Wade Pickren, director for the Center for Faculty Excellence & Sponsored Research, will be moderating the panel discussion. The center works to support faculty initiatives and educational development opportunities such as Condeescu’s work with the Climate Change Theatre Action. They assist in providing organization and necessary resources for these events.

Pickren said Condeescu’s event is an important experience for the college community and that it highlights the impact that our local, daily efforts have on the larger community.

Pickren said he sees this event as an opportunity to educate the community and spark change.

“We can raise awareness on campus that human actions have direct and indirect effects on the quality of the environment that we live in, that our children will live in,” Pickren said. “It can both raise awareness and spur people to action.”

Pickren called Condeescu the genius behind this action and commended her efforts toward environmental justice.

“We’re lucky to have her,” Pickren said. “She’s got a unique combination of being a really fine artist and socially concerned person, and she brings those two together in ways that I think are remarkable.”

Condeescu said this event goes far beyond her individual actions, and she is glad to be part of a community of artivists.

“As artists we try to do meaningful things,” Condeescu said. “It’s not just about sitting down, writing my plays, but being part of a community of artists that have something to say.”