“Remember, if someone you don’t know very well is trying to get you to build a bomb, just say no!”
So speak the puppets of the Earth First! Roadshow.
At the recent Earth Matters On Stage EcoDrama symposium, PhD candidate Sarah Standing read a paper analyzing Earth First! and Greenpeace activities as performance. Both groups are famous for direct actions meant to draw attention to ecological plight, but differ in their extremes: Greenpeace appeals to those who prefer non-violent tactics, and Earth First! is known for spawning a few “domestic terrorist organizations.”
While not actually committing acts of terrorism, Earth First! activists are famous for tree-sits and other extreme measures. Some of its founders are credited with fake-cracking the Glen Canyon Dam in 1981. Recently its members have turned to more traditional theatrics in an attempt to educate and energize the movement.
Performers of the Earth First! Roadshow travel the country in a Chevy van with a timeline of “green scare” arrests, a slideshow of Earth First! actions, a map of ecological disasters and actions in America, and a security culture puppet show with a cast of woodland creatures. The pig puppet plays the cop, the owl is the narrator, and everyone scolds a fox named Danny for bragging about his radical graffiti. You can listen to a reading of the puppet show here.
The website ups the drama by comparing the roadshow to The Fellowship of the Ring:
. . . the roadshow is a great tool for cultivating resistance. There are countless examples to draw from in the story of radical movements before us: militant labor organizing tours, anti-fascist resistance recruitment and international speaking tours to build cross-border solidarity. The origin of Earth First! is credited to a few roadshows that kicked it all off in the early 1980s. We are building on this tradition; akin to a fellowship crossing Middle Earth to amass insurgents to face Mordor head-on.
Enemies of the Earth beware . . .