Civic Ensemble & Cornell to Investigate Climate Change Through Theatre

Civic Ensemble & Cornell to Investigate Climate Change Through Theatre

This fall, Civic Ensemble and Cornell University's Department of Performing and Media Arts continue their partnership with a new version of PMA's Theatre and Social Change course.

The course, originally developed and taught by Professor Sara Warner, has been reimagined, and with funding from Engaged Cornell, is now being co-taught by Professor Warner and Senior Lecturer, and Civic Ensemble Artistic Director, Godfrey L. Simmons, Jr. Additional collaborators are Civic Ensemble Artistic Director Sarah K. Chalmers and Cornell Earth and Atmospheric Sciences Assistant Professor Toby Ault.

The course teaches students how to use theatre to initiate dialogue and change around a vital issue of our times. This semester, that issue is climate change here in Tompkins County and the greater Finger Lakes area.

In addition to classroom lectures and hands-on workshops on climate science and theatre techniques, students will participate in story circles and interviews off-campus with community members, students, scientists, government officials, farmers, and artists. Civic Ensemble is establishing connections with individuals and community, and government groups to set up story circles and interviews during the month of October. These stories and interviews will help create the course's culminating project, a play in the format of a Living Newspaper.

A story circle is an opportunity for participants to share stories of what they have personally experienced in their home, work, and elsewhere. Everyone has an equal amount of time to speak and the structure of the circle places a premium listening and attending to what each person shares. Civic Ensemble uses story circles to build community and develop new plays based on the stories told.

There are several story circles scheduled with specific groups and populations, and three story circles open to the public. Civic Ensemble invites all interested people to attend one of these circles or contact for more information.

The public story circles:

Sunday, October 8, 12pm-2pm at Cayuga Nature Center;

Saturday, October 14, 2pm-4pm at The History Center in Tompkins County; and

Tuesday, October 17, 6:30pm-8:30pm at The History Center in Tompkins County.

These circles are open to everyone aged 12+. No sign-up or preparation is needed and food is provided. Both locations are handicap accessible. If you have any questions or concerns, contact or 443-834-4612.

Civic Ensemble & Cornell to Investigate Climate Change Through TheatreThe cast of this original play will consist of students and community members. Performances of Climates of Change will be held at Cornell University's Schwartz Center of Performing Arts Film Forum December 1st and 2nd at 7:30pm, in two off-campus locations in Tompkins County on December 2nd and 3rd at 2pm, and at the Cornell Sustainability Summit on the CU campus December 4th. Tickets will be available soon.

Civic Ensemble and Cornell PMA previously collaborated on mainstage productions of All God's Chillun' Got Wings and Baltimore, combining academics with community-based work. Engaged Cornell sponsors this semester-long project.

Civic Ensemble is a non-profit theatre company that produces new plays by or about women and people of color, re-imaginings of classics, and community-based plays that explore and explode the social, political, and cultural issues of our time. Through the production of plays, after-school and in-school education programs for young people, and civic engagement programs with Ithaca community members, the company works to bring audiences of different races, classes, and experiences together in a public forum on the American experiment.

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