Local groups using theater, film to highlight climate change

  • Greening Greenfield held a rally about climate change last year on the Greenfield Common. Now, the organization is joining forces with Local Access to hold a series of readings and performances of short climate-change plays. STAFF FILE PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ


Staff Writer
Published: 9/18/2019 6:08:37 PM
Modified: 9/18/2019 6:08:26 PM

GREENFIELD — Two local groups are joining forces to expand public knowledge of climate change using theater, while a pair of energy committees are doing the same through film.

Greening Greenfield and Local Access will hold Climate Change Theatre Action Greenfield, a series of readings and performances of short climate-change plays presented biennially to coincide with the United Nations Climate Change Conference.

The groups will be holding auditions for the events; five will be held through December. They will launch the program at the Great Falls Word Festival in October, organizer Jan Maher said. It will end in December with a Racial Justice Rising event at the First Congregational Church. Other venues, dates and times will be announced at a later date.

Auditions to read or perform will be held Saturday at 2, 3 or 4 p.m., and Monday at 6, 7 or 8 p.m. at 170 Main St. Performers and non-performers are welcome to participate.

Maher, who founded Local Access, a nonprofit arts and education program, brought the program to the area when she moved here with her husband three years ago. Maher, who is also a Greening Greenfield member, said the local groups are hoping to read at least 47 of the 49 plays that are read internationally. She said the stories tend to bring communities together.

“Theater is a unique way to consider issues,” Maher said. “It inherently brings multiple points of view to important issues, and it’s a nice way to explore the experiences of ‘real’ fictional characters. It’s a powerful way to wrestle with important questions and have complicated discussions.”

Maher said the performances and readings will explore not only how climate change affects people in their backyards, but how it affects others all over the world.

“We tend to focus on what affects us, and we’re not so aware of what’s happening elsewhere,” she said.

To audition, RSVP with the date and time you plan to attend by texting Maher at 206-234-9146 or emailing her at localaccess@aol.com. Also, visit: bit.ly/2jYOyJ7. If you want to get involved, but don’t want to read or perform, contact Maher, as well.

Energy committees to offer film screening

It seems the Deerfield and Sunderland energy committees also had the idea to use the arts to showcase climate change, but instead of using theater performances, the committees are using film.

The committees will show “Paris to Pittsburgh,” produced by National Geographic in 2018, on Sept. 25, at 6 p.m. at the Sunderland Public Library. The film will be followed by a brief panel discussion featuring local experts and then a general discussion.

The panel will include Frank Keimig, former manager of the UMass Climate System Research Center; Jennifer Unkles, financial manager of the Hitchcock Center for the Environment and a member of the Sunderland Conservation Commission; and David Gilbert Keith, an independent researcher and chair of the Deerfield Energy Committee. They will share their responses to the film.

Laurie Boosahda, a member of the Deerfield Energy Committee, said she chose the film because, it “gives an overview of the impacts of climate change, but most importantly, the editors take us to communities that are aggressively tackling carbon pollution.”

“I hope the film and discussion will spur local initiatives as well as personal action to curb our greenhouse gas emissions,” said Aaron Falbel, a member of the Sunderland Energy Committee. “But more than this, we need to use less energy in general.”

Falbel said renewable energy is key, but it can’t solve the entire problem.

Each year, Communities Responding to Extreme Weather (CREW) marks Climate Preparedness Week (Sept. 24 through 30) with a week dedicated to learning, service and actions to better prepare communities for extreme weather events. CREW provides the resources and space to towns and cities to think about the ways climate change disadvantages them — some more than others.

This year, the University of Massachusetts Amherst has teamed up with CREW to sponsor a program called Climate Change Conversations in Libraries in public libraries across the state. Deerfield and Sunderland have teamed up to join in the efforts.

The film’s website says “Paris to Pittsburgh” brings to life the impassioned efforts of individuals who are battling the most severe threats of climate change in their backyards. It is set against the national debate over the United States and its energy future, as well as the Trump administration’s decision to exit the Paris Climate Agreement. It spotlights cities, states, businesses and citizens taking action, and it explores the social and economic impacts of climate change disasters.

Reach Anita Fritz at 413-772-0261, ext. 269 or afritz@recorder.com.


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