Annual theater production tackling climate change issues arrives at Northwestern


Courtesy of Chantal Bilodeau

A Climate Change Theatre Action event at The Box Collective in Brooklyn in 2015. CCTA at NU is one of more than 200 performances in a biennial global series aiming to provoke dialogue and action toward climate change.

Aidan Markey, Digital Managing Editor

To Communication senior Isadora Porte, theater can be more than just a performance — it can be a call to action, too.

Porte and other Northwestern students will get together Sunday to present Climate Change Theatre Action at NU, one of more than 200 theatrical performances in a biennial global series aiming to provoke dialogue and action toward climate change.

Porte, who produces CCTA at NU, is among the students bringing the event for the first time to Northwestern. She said CCTA emphasizes discussion and action by calling for diversity among performances.

“The idea is that each of these events can be anything from a fully staged production to a reading in your living room,” Porte said. “The goal is to get everyone together and talking about climate change.”

The series is a worldwide collaboration between the Center for Sustainable Practice in the Arts, NoPassport Theatre Alliance, The Arctic Cycle, Theatre Without Borders and York University, according to the CCTA website. The event coincides with the United Nations’ 23rd Conference of the Parties held in Bonn, Germany, which will feature discussion on the future of international climate change policy.

Fifty commissioned acts are available for universities, theater companies and other collaborators to produce throughout the world, with each act addressing a different aspect of the global issue. Of those acts, CCTA at NU will present “Magical Vagina,” “Single Use” and “Oh How We Loved Our Tuna!,” as well as the CCTA 2017 song “Infinite Water.”

Porte said CCTA at NU will feature works from student playwrights in addition to these commissioned pieces.

Second-year master of fine arts student Alex Mallory, who spearheads the initiative with Porte, will serve as the artistic director for the event. Mallory said she and Porte wanted to create a collective environment that encouraged artistic contributions from other NU students.

“Our goal is to create a community event beyond just a regular performance,” Mallory said. “Rather than choosing a play that deals with issues of climate change and presenting it, we are inviting playwrights and directors to participate in whatever way they would like.”

Porte said she expects about 10 student-coordinated pieces to complement the commissioned works, with the lineup likely to change in the final days leading up to the production. These works will also explore different themes that concern climate change, she said.

Communication senior Juliet Roll, one of the playwrights involved with this year’s CCTA event, said the event’s emphasis on involvement rather than total commitment has allowed student collaborators to focus on calling for action.

“It’s definitely synonymous with the message to just do something, and don’t wait for the perfect thing to do,” Roll said. “It’s cool that there are a lot of people contributing in small ways.”

CCTA at NU will be held at the Mussetter-Struble Theater for a single performance. Although admission is free, Mallory said donations will be accepted to aid hurricane relief in Puerto Rico.

Mallory said the organizers’ decision to accept donations exemplifies the overarching purpose of the global CCTA events.

“(We’ve) decided to pursue emergency relief efforts because that’s something immediate and something we can affect right now,” Mallory said. “We can see the direct impact.”

Porte said this collaboration and action between writers, directors and audience members signifies the importance of partnering in tackling global environmental issues.

“Interdisciplinary work, especially within climate change, is so important,” Porte said. “We’re looking forward to getting a lot of people in the room.”

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