Transnational and Postcolonial Perspectives on Communicating Climate Change Through Theater

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


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.


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

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.American Studies, University of GrazGrazAustria

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