BY: LEIGH FONDAKOWSKI
DIRECTED BY: CAITLIN KANE
CORNELL UNIVERSITY, FLEX THEATRE
APRIL 26 - MAY 4, 2019
CLIMATES OF CHANGE: A LIVING NEWSPAPER
CO- DIRECTED BY SARAH K. CHALMERS, CAITLIN KANE, & GODFREY L. SIMMONS, JR.
CIVIC ENSEMBLE & CORNELL UNIVERSITY
Climates of Change follows Zola Richard, a recent college graduate from Tompkins County, New York who returns home to find the family farm facing foreclosure after several poor growing seasons caused by extreme weather. Zola, a chemical engineer and climate activist, can save the property, one of the few black farms in the area, if she accepts a job with a Big Oil firm with a record of environmental violations. How can Zola reconcile what she sees as her familial duty with her political convictions?
This production was developed in a course, Theatre and Social Change, in the Department of Performing and Media Arts. The class taught applied theater techniques that enabled students to conduct interviews and participate in Story Circles, a form of community-based dialog, under the tutelage of Civic Ensemble’s Sarah K. Chalmers. The class, consisting of students and community members, studied earth and atmospheric science with Toby Ault and his graduate mentee Grace Liu. Participants used all of this material to devise the script. Climates of Change was staged on campus and across the community, with each performance followed by a moderated discussion.
As the course's teaching assistant and the production's co-director, I taught sessions on the history of living newspapers and applied theater practice, led devising sessions, coached the writing team, and staged significant portions of the performance.