Environmental crisis the foundation of new theatrical works

TPM showcases local talent to talk about climate change

Theatre has been a medium for change for centuries. Theatre Projects Manitoba (TPM) is contributing to that history with their new show Climate & Main, which will bring attention to climate-related issues.

Climate & Main is a mixture of new works by local playwrights and a few international pieces.

“Before Christmas, we had been in talks with a company out in New York called The Arctic Cycle, and they were taking part in something called Climate Change Theatre Action,” Michelle Boulet, interim artistic coordinator for TPM, says. “It is a worldwide event, and they were trying to encourage theatres to put up some programming that was identified specifically as dealing with climate change.”

TPM posted a call for submissions on social media in December and recently announced Climate & Main’s participating playwrights and artists: Waawaate Fobister, Victoria Hill, Tanner Manson and Jack Maier.

Manson says he is excited to work on this project with his friend and fellow theatre-maker Hill.

Manson says Climate & Main was a great opportunity for them to experiment and create something together. Their piece is currently a work in progress, but he hinted that it will involve some type of movement or dance.

“My favourite thing about theatre is process,” Manson says. “The process of making and discovering new things with artists, nurturing and creating relationships with collaborators, the process of learning about my own arts practice by sharing the arts practice of many (and) learning from each other.”

Using theatre as a space to talk about the climate emergency can be fun, and both audiences and creators alike can learn something about how we treat the planet. Manson says it is also a topic that needs to be addressed with care.

“I think theatre can be a tool to spark change. I think whenever we take the time to listen, there are little shifts that happen all the time in ourselves, and theatre sets you up to listen to a story, usually with others,” Manson says. “There’s something really beautiful about having a potentially deeply personal experience in a sea of patrons also having potentially deep personal experiences of realizations. If nothing else, theatre reminds us to listen more, and that things are impermanent.”

Climate & Main was initially created to be a part of The Bridge, the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre’s annual festival of ideas, but due to the Omicron wave of COVID-19, Boulet is shifting the show to be held at a different venue later in the year.

“You really do adapt. And it’s just such a huge metaphor for climate change,” Boulet says. “The world that we’re living in is not going to be the world that we were born into. And so artistic practice, the whole idea, the whole notion of artistic planning, it’s all evolved, and it will continue to evolve.”

To keep up with Climate & Main and future show dates, follow TPM on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter @TPMwinnipeg or sign up for their newsletter at theatreprojectsmanitoba.ca.

Published in Volume 76, Number 15 of The Uniter (January 27, 2022)

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