Rehearsals

Nigerian theatre mixes oil and climate, on the ground

This post comes to you from Ashden Directory
Wallace Heim writes:

The Nigerian playwright and academic Greg Mbajiorgu got in touch with us after reading Robert Butler’s blogs on Ashdenizen on the difficulties of writing plays about climate change. Greg sent us his play, Wake Up Everyone, which has a preface quoting from this blog.

Wake Up Everyonebegan as a commission by the African Technology Policy Studies Network, Nairobi, Kenya for their international conference on climate change in Nigeriain 2009.

That policy world is represented in the main character, Maukwe Aladinma, a retired professor of agriculture, now attempting to get the local government in the rural Ndoli area to build flood defences and advising communal farmers on using organic waste and planting stronger, non-GMO seeds. The professor, too, is a dramatist. In a play-within-a-play, the actors of his theatre company rehearse scenes describing the effects of climate change, those happening now and those anticipated: rivers dried, torrential floods, tornadoes, plagues, famines and poverty. The surrounding scenes are of a naturalistic theatre style; the rehearsals are a play to be performed as if in a dream or possessed.

A local official, Chairperson of the Ndoli Local Government Area, Hon. Edwin Ochonkeya, blocks the building of the defences. When the threatened flood sweeps the land, the farmers become an angry mob, running off-stage to extract revenge on the official.

Greg’s writing is purposeful: to support impoverished farmers, to educate, to build resilience against the effects of climate change in rural Nigeria.

The information on climate change is familiar enough, if uncomfortable. The role of the expert in presenting knowledge to farmers is familiar, too, the belief and disbelief, the sometimes awkward juncture of different kinds of experience, the social power implicit in different kinds of knowledge.

The depiction of the official, Ochonkeya, is what startles. His actions are presented as commonplace. A militant against the oil companies, he was on the verge of forming his own kidnapping gang when a massive oil spill damaged his family’s land and killed his father. He employed a lawyer to bring an action against the companies, who settled out of court for three hundred million naira and funded his campaign for local office on the condition that he didn’t make any further case on behalf of affected farmers. He won his campaign with the rhetoric of environmentalism: ‘Before this plague of climate change the oil companies had milked our land dry, but have given nothing to nourish it. All that is left (of my family’s farmland) is thick layers of oil, oil in our waters, oil in our wet lands, oil in our fragile soil, down to the roots of our edible crops, oil and more oil…’

And now, he is stopping any adaptation to or mediation of climate damage.

In a single character, the play conveys the immediate, turbulent, deceptive forces underlying oil production in Nigeria and in Canada, Baku-Tbilisi, Iraq, the Arctic, a world not wholly expressed by the activists against it, working across political boundaries.

It couldn’t be more topical. Last week, in The Hague, four Nigerians and Friends of the Earth began a lawsuit against Royal Dutch Shell Plc for  its environmental record in the in Niger Delta, a case that may set a precedent for claims related to the activities of international corporations.

And on Friday, Wake Up Everyone received a first Individual Award in Arts and Humanities Research at the 5th Nigerian Universities Research and Development Fair in Mina, Niger State.

“ashdenizen blog and twitter are consistently among the best sources for information and reflection on developments in the field of arts and climate change in the UK” (2020 Network)

ashdenizen is edited by Robert Butler, and is the blog associated with the Ashden Directory, a website focusing on environment and performance.
The Ashden Directory is edited by Robert Butler and Wallace Heim, with associate editor Kellie Gutman. The Directory includes features, interviews, news, a timeline and a database of ecologically – themed productions since 1893 in the United Kingdom. Our own projects include ‘New Metaphors for Sustainability’, ‘Flowers Onstage’ and ‘Six ways to look at climate change and theatre’.

The Directory has been live since 2000.

Go to The Ashden Directory

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Environmental Justice League Presentation June 16th in Los Angeles

The Environmental Justice League is a community theatre project housed in the Los Angeles City Council District 10. For 8 weeks, they have met on Saturdays to develop their writing and performance skills to create an original theater piece on environmental justice. The ethnically diverse members of the group range from 20 to 90 years old and  they conduct their rehearsals in English, Spanish and Korean.

They invite all to come watch the sharing of their works in progress. Come see as they transform an outdoor amphitheater into a magic bus that will take you on a ride through the present and future of climate, food, transit and environmental justice.

The performance will be at 5:30 PM, Saturday June 16th, 2012.

The location for the performance is the William Grant Still Art Center at 2520 West View Street, Los Angeles, CA 90016. 

Trailer Gets Sleek and Sustainable Design

SCI-Arc student Dovid Feld has been helping us work out a new design for our 1951 Spartan Trailer.   The banquette area that wraps around the front windows will be the centerpiece for our indoor events:

Dovid's design envisions a modular banquette area for rehearsals and performances.

The area will be used for rehearsals, discussions, poetry and play readings, as well as art sessions with young people like our buddies the NOMADS. We took our inspiration from 1950′s-style diners. But we had to make sure that the seats would be light-weight so we could transform the space into a “stage” for concerts, puppet shows, etc.:

Vinly upholstery made with low VOCs and recycled content

Check out the upholstery material we are considering!   We are committed to building in a sustainable manner and take pride in doing considerable research before choosing materials.  This material is made from sturdy vinyl but it contains low VOC’s and uses 30% recycled content (20% post-consumer recycled polyester and 10% pre-consumer recycled vinyl).  We got the idea for using this particular brand from some of the students at SCI-Arc who working on a design for the Solar Decathlon, a competition sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy.

The front windows have always been a key feature of Spartan trailers; the designs are intended to be reminiscent of an airplane cockpit.  However, the windows are fixed.  To open them up requires cutting into the skin and frame – not an easy feat.  The Spartan’s aluminum frame (a monocoque design) accounts for 70% of the trailer’s strength.  Cutting into it involves risk and opens up the possibility of leaks.

The bay window area of our 1951 Spartan is a great design. But the windows are fixed; we want to open them out. The job represents a considerable engineering challenge.

We’ve found the right guy for the job – Eddie Paul from EP Industries.  Opening up the windows, will allow us to make art (puppet shows, shadow plays, dances) available to outdoor audiences.  A small portable stage over the trailer tongue will add further possibilities:

The windows will open and a portable stage will go over the trailer tongue.

How is this all going to work?  We’ll figure that out as we go along, with the help of playwright and puppeteer Leila Ghaznavi and friends.  Her “Silken Veils” will be used as a template for other shows:  the audience will be seated outside;  marionettes and shadow puppets will be stage inside with actors and musicians on the outside stage.

Leila Ghaznavi’s “Silken Veils” will be used as a model for other performances we can stage in and around the trailer.

We’ve got a ways to go before we finish the restoration.  But we have a great new design to keep us motivated.  (Thanks, Dovid!)


This post is part of a series documenting Sam Breen’a Spartan Restoration Project. Please see his first post here and check out the archive here. The CSPA is helping Sam by serving in an advisory role, offering modest support and featuring Sam’s Progress by syndicating his feed from http://spartantrailerrestoration.wordpress.com as part of our CSPA Supports Program.

Actors wanted | The Waste Ed Roadshow

Waste Ed Roadshow, charity creating educatioinal tools for young people, is looknig for two actors for pilot project

We are a registered charity creating exciting educational tools for teaching young people about ecology. Our new project – The Waste Ed Roadshow – is looking for two actors – male and female – to perform a 20 minute humourous dialogue about waste and how it effects ourselves and the environment.

Suitable people will be 18-25 years old, lively and confident, have some acting experience, and be genuinely interested in ‘green’ issues.

The performance will be part of up to 5 pilot runs of the roadshow, from end of May through June. Rehearsals will be led by our Project Leader (a professional actress). To keep travel expenses to a minimum, we are looking for volunteers from the West Greater London/Woking/Ascot area.

If you’re interested in getting involved contact us with a bit about yourself, your experience, and a photo if possible.

You can also visit www.waste-ed.org.uk for more information about the roadshow.

Go to RSA Arts & Ecology

Rogue Artists Ensemble – AUDITION: Gogol Project Workshop

Rogue Artists Ensemble is now looking for actors, puppeteers and movement-based performers for a staged workshop version of their upcoming original Hyper-theatrical work, Gogol Project, based on three tales by

Russian author Nikolai Gogol. The script been adapted for the stage by Kitty Felde with music and songs by Ego Plum.

The workshop will begin rehearsals the 2nd week of April and the workshop performs Tuesday April 28-Wednesday April 29th at Bootleg Theater on Beverly Blvd. Rehearsals will be Mon-Thurs with select

rehearsals on weekends leading up to the performance. There is a one-night mandatory technical rehearsal on Monday April 27th from 6pm – 11pm.

For more information including the character breakdown, click “read more.”

There is no pay for the workshop, but it will be a rewarding and inspiring experience for all involved The full production of Gogol Project will take place from September through October at Bootleg Theater, and

auditions will be held in July. Participation in this preliminary workshop does not guarantee a role in the full production. The workshop performance will be open to the public and pay-what-you-can/free.

The cast size for the workshop will be twelve actors, some of which will be performing as the silent characters and puppet based characters in the piece. Gogol Project will require an ensemble of actors to together create

the over twenty characters which populate the world of Nevsky Prospect. The workshop will feature some projected elements, puppets, set and costumes in order to help approximate the feel of the full production.

Interested artists should submit by March 20th to scawelti@rogueartists.org, including their resume and headshot if available.

Cast will be contacted by March 27th and auditions/readings may be scheduled if needed.

via Rogue Artists Ensemble – AUDITION: Gogol Project Workshop.