It’s been more than a week since the final days of this year’s Earth Matters On Stage EcoDrama Symposium. I returned from Oregon to be immediately eaten alive by my other life: just coming up for air now and able to digest some of the great happenings and events. Hence this giant post.
The picture above is from day nine : that’s Ian Garrett and Naseem Mazloom of the Center for Sustainable Practice in the Arts chillin’ on the lawn of the University of Oregon. After nine very full days of lectures, workshops, panels and a staged reading of Theresa May’s intense play Salmon is Everything, we needed a break.
The very full final weekend started off with an early-morning video conference with a UK contingent hosted by the Ashden Directory. The overseas contributors overcame the fuzzy video and iffy sound quality of our current technology by preparing a short film.
In it, several leading environmental artists, administrators and thinkers passed the philosophical baton by asking questions like: “How far is art worth the damage?” and “How can we reunite culture and agriculture through performance?” The room was brimming with ideas after that, and it was all we could do to get a few notions exchanged across the Atlantic before time ran out. Watch the video: do it now.
The stimulating conversation continued the next day with a panel called Theater’s Double Helix: Green Building and Sustainable Community Engagement. Tim DuRoche and Creon Thorne of Portland Center Stage discussed their mecca of a green theatre: the folks from CSPA discussed their future mecca of sustainable practice.
Easily one of the most fascinating panels of the week, however, was the Northwest Theater Town Hall Meeting on Place/Community/Theatre. In it, Artistic Directors and administrators from a wide swath of Pacific Northwest Theaters (Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Teatro Milagro, and the Lord Leebrick Theatre, to name a few), discussed how they strive to best serve their communities.
Issues of race surfaced, and not timidly (quote from Valerie Curtis-Newton of the Lorraine Hansberry Project: “Why does the marketing sound like an anthropological expedition? White people! Stop trying to sell me to other white people!”). The idea of non-local community also came under discussion (45% of OSF’s audience is from the SF Bay Area: the internet creates seas of non-geographic communities: PCS had Scrooge “twittering” during A Christmas Carol). All in all, great perspective from a group of seasoned professionals.
Somewhere within these ten days I led a panel and a workshop: there were also many, many other worthwhile performances and presentations (including a short play starring a Cedar Tree). Over the next few months I’ll do retrospectives of works I’ve missed: stay posted.
Garrett and I had to miss the last day to get back into California for work. We left exhausted, but excited about the future. The Earth Matters On Stage EcoDrama symposium was a kind of turning-of-the-soil, great groundwork for things to come. Thanks to the University of Oregon, Damond Morris, and Theresa May for making it happen.
Some greenmuseum.org ecology and performance links: