Advertisement

Transnational and Postcolonial Perspectives on Communicating Climate Change Through Theater

  • Nassim Winnie BalestriniEmail author
Chapter
  • 687 Downloads
Part of the Climate Change Management book series (CCM)

Abstract

While theater cannot prevent climate change, it can engage with conveying knowledge and attitudes. This paper does not measure the impact of specific theater performances on test participants. It rather analyzes which artistic methods the authors of a specific corpus of texts use in order to communicate climate change. In this sense, this paper is not concerned with pragmatic suggestions regarding climate change per se; instead, the focus is on communicating climate change through theater. Integrating climate-change science into theatrical performances generates aesthetic challenges: how can dramatists represent a long-term global phenomenon within the spatiotemporal limits of a performance? How can drama convey scientifically sound information along with captivating characters and plots? How can performances elicit more nuanced viewer responses than panic in the face of impending disaster or apathy based on lacking concern? Taking transnational American Studies and postcolonial literary theory as points of departure, this paper will discuss English-language theatrical works linked to Climate Change Theatre Action (CCTA), an initiative originally launched by artists in the United States and Canada to publicize the 2015 Paris Climate Conference (COP21) and designed to occur every other year. This activism-oriented project translates issues related to global climate change into a transnational theater practice that experiments with innovative drama aesthetics and that fosters communication across boundaries between theater professionals and amateurs, climate-change specialists and the scientifically untrained general public as well as local action and international orientation. Despite continuing notions that science represents rational thinking whereas artistic depictions express or arouse predominantly fearful emotions, this body of very short performances and the online forum in which some of the same theater practitioners exchange ideas and experiences offer working models for effective collaboration that may support widespread activism.

Keywords

Climate change communication Theater and performance Postcolonial theory Transnational American Studies Climate change theatre action 

Works Cited

  1. Abbasi DR (2006) Americans and climate change: closing the gap between science and action. Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies. http://environment.yale.edu/climate-communication-OFF/files/americans_and_climate_change.pdf. Last Accessed 14 Nov 2017
  2. Anzaldúa G (1987) Borderlands/La Frontera: the New Mestiza. Aunt Lute Books, San FranciscoGoogle Scholar
  3. Balestrini N (2017a) Cli-Fi drama and performance. In: Leikam S, Leyda J (eds) Amerikastudien/American Studies, vol 62, no 1, pp 114–120Google Scholar
  4. Balestrini N (2017b) Transnational space and anthropocentric time: theorizing Chantal Bilodeau’s plays as climate change drama. In: Schmidt K, Aghoro N (eds) J Contemp Drama Engl Spec Issue Theatre Mobil 5(1):70–85Google Scholar
  5. Balestrini N (2018) Climate change drama across time and space. Chantal Bilodeau’s (2016) Forward. In: Löschnigg M, Braunecker M (eds) Green matters: reading literature as cultural ecology. Brill, LeidenGoogle Scholar
  6. Bhabha H (1994) The location of culture. Routledge, LondonGoogle Scholar
  7. Bilodeau C (2013a) A climate of collaboration: environmental scientists urge artists to humanize the stories behind the research. Am Theatre, 62–65Google Scholar
  8. Bilodeau C (2013b) ‘Arctic in context’ climate change theater action. World Policy Institute. http://www.worldpolicy.org/blog/2016/02/10/climate-change-theater-action. Last Accessed 14 Nov 2017
  9. Bilodeau C (2016) As the climate change threat grows, so does a theatrical response. Am Theatre, 30 March. http://www.americantheatre.org/2016/03/30/as-the-climate-change-threat-grows-so-does-a-theatrical-response/. Last Accessed 27 Aug 2016
  10. Chaudhuri U (ed) (1994) Theatre, special issue on “ecology and theatre, vol 25, no 1Google Scholar
  11. Chaudhuri U (2012) The silence of the polar bears: performing (climate) change in the theater of species. In: Arons W, May T (eds) Readings in performance and ecology. Palgrave Macmillan, New York, pp 45–57CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Chaudhuri U, Enelow S (eds) (2014) Research theatre, climate change, and the ecocide project: a casebook. Palgrave Macmillan, New York, p viiiGoogle Scholar
  13. Cilano C, DeLoughrey E (2007) Against authenticity: global knowledges and postcolonial ecocriticism. ISLE Interdiscip Stud Lit Environ 14(1):71–86CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Ereaut G, Segnit N (2006) Warm words: how are we telling the climate story and can we tell it better? Institute for Public Policy Research, London, UK. https://www.ippr.org/files/images/media/files/publication/2011/05/warm_words_1529.pdf. Last Accessed 27 Aug 2016
  15. Fish S (1980) Is there a text in this class? The authority of interpretive communities. Harvard University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  16. Fishkin S (2011) Redefinitions of citizenship and revisions of cosmopolitanism—transnational perspectives: a response and a proposal. J Transnatl Am Stud 3(1):1–11. https://escholarship.org/content/qt1qw5364p/qt1qw5364p.pdf. Last Accessed 14 Nov 2017
  17. Fluck W (2007) Inside and outside: what kind of knowledge do we need? a response to the presidential address. Am Q 59(1):23–32CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Heise U (2008) Ecocriticism and the transnational turn in American Studies. Am Lit Hist 20(1/2):381–404. https://academic.oup.com/alh/article-lookup/doi/10.1093/alh/ajm055. Last Accessed 11 Oct 2016CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Hornung A (2011) ‘Planetary citizenship’ section of “symposium: redefinitions of citizenship and revisions of cosmopolitanism—transnational perspectives: a response and a proposal. Journal of Transnatl Am Stud 3(1):39–46. https://escholarship.org/uc/item/8n55g7q6. Last Accessed 14 Nov 2017
  20. Huggan G, Tiffin H (eds) (2010) Postcolonial ecocriticism: literature, animals, environment. Routledge, AbingdonGoogle Scholar
  21. Johns-Putra A (2016) Climate change in literature and literary studies: from Cli-Fi, climate change theater and ecopoetry to ecocriticism and climate change criticism. WIREs Clim Change.  https://doi.org/10.1002/wcc.385. Last Accessed 3 Apr 2016Google Scholar
  22. Leikam S, Leyda J (eds) (2017) ‘What’s in a name?’: Cli-Fi and American Studies (extended forum). Amerikastudien/Am Stud 62(1):109–138Google Scholar
  23. Lenz G (2011) ‘Introduction’ section of “symposium: redefinitions of citizenship and revisions of cosmopolitanism—transnational perspectives: a response and a proposal”. J Transnatl Am Stud 3(1):4–17. https://escholarship.org/uc/item/8n55g7q6. Last Accessed 14 Nov 2017
  24. Mayer S, Weik von Mossner A (eds) (2014) The anticipation of catastrophe: environmental risk in North American literature and culture. Winter, HeidelbergGoogle Scholar
  25. Moser S, Dilling L (eds) (2007) Creating a climate for change: communicating climate change and facilitating social change. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  26. Norgaard K (2011) Living in denial: climate change, emotions, and everyday life. MIT Press, CambridgeCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Radway J (2002/1998) ‘What’s in a name?’ Repr. In: Pease D, Wiegman R (eds) The futures of American Studies. Duke University Press, Durham, pp 45–75Google Scholar
  28. Shome D, Marx S (2009) The psychology of climate change communication: a guide for scientists, journalists, educators, political aides, and the interested public. Center for Research on Environmental Decisions, Columbia University. http://guide.cred.columbia.edu/pdfs/CREDguide_full-res.pdf. Last Accessed 14 Nov 2017
  29. Shu Y, Pease D (eds) (2015) American Studies as transnational practice: turning toward the transpacific. Dartmouth College Press, Hanover, New HampshireGoogle Scholar
  30. Smith P, Howe N (2015) Climate change as social drama: global warming in the public sphere. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  31. Tait P (2015) Love, fear, and climate change: emotions in drama and performance. PMLA 130(5):1501–1505CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.American Studies, University of GrazGrazAustria

Personalised recommendations