Dr. Jocelyn Buckner
The Earth is growing unsuitable for human society as we know it at an unprecedented rate. Among the latest in a set of increasingly grim statistics, the atmosphere’s carbon dioxide concentration is now a staggering 150% of its value for most of human history (Stein). This has triggered global warming on track to meet or exceed 1.5 degrees Celsius, which comes with extreme and irreversible changes to the planet (Jackson). However, this information fails to both command its merited attention and spark the urgent action needed to preserve our way of life. Less than half of American voters consider climate change to be a “very important” voting issue and less than a tenth consider it to be the most important one (YouGov
America). The incongruence between climate change’s danger and society’s concern is stark and concerning. In this paper, I analyze the content and techniques that political, scientific, and news sources employ to deliver information about climate change. I explore how these elements contribute to the failure of these media to mobilize society against the severe threat posed by climate change. Theatre, as an institution and as a set of storytelling tools, has the potential to resolve this failure to present environmental information effectively. Theatre is, fundamentally, an art form that compels its audiences and causes action. By breaking down the audiences’ walls against being affected; creating an emotional connection, intimacy, and complicity; and encouraging audience participation; theatre can call its audiences to action. I argue that the emotive force that theatre builds from these techniques can be employed--and present methods for their use--to truly convince society to care enough about the Earth to keep it from burning.
Kirsch, Brian, "Under New Direction: Using Theatre to Combat the Climate Crisis" (2022). Student Scholar Symposium Abstracts and Posters. 556.