UK theater performance brings light to climate change

Rebecca Watters

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UK’s Staging History class is celebrating Earth Day by bringing climate change front and center of the courtyard in the College of Fine Arts.

A staged reading of the class’s original script, “Terra”, will take place for the first time Friday at 5 p.m.

Since the semester began, Chellgren Endowed associate professor of playwriting Herman Daniel Farrell III and UK theatre and honors students have been working on the play. Farrell said  he and his class chose climate change because they believe it is an important contemporary issue.

“What we ended up creating is an organizing principle to educate our audience about global climate change in an entertaining fashion,” Farrell said. “I hope the performance raises awareness about climate change.”

Alongside Farrell, extension professor and provost’s distinguished service professor Paul Vincelli and Alice Turkington, director of undergraduate studies in the Department of Geography have been a part of the process.

Vincelli and Turkington have been responsible for the science side of the performance, including educating Farrell and his students.

“We monitored the process and we watched for scientific mistakes or misunderstandings,” Vincelli said.

Vincelli says he focused on educating students about how something they do each day can affect the environment.

“Food choices have a huge impact on climate change, especially with respect to the meat industry. I talked to students about the idea of their carbon footprint,” Vincelli said.

For the last two years Farrell has been working with Vincelli and Turkington on the project. This semester was the first time students were included, and Herman said it has been a collaborative process since then.

“There was a desire on the part of many students to keep it funny and personal,” Farrell said. “The whole class has participated, and we are finally at a place where we are finished writing.”

“Terra” portrays many different characters, including an emphasis on addressing the skeptics surrounding climate change and global warming. According to Farrell, some of these skeptical characters include a politician, a businessman and a coal miner.

For international studies and theatre sophomore Brenton Watts, who is a research assistant for the production and an actor, playing a coal miner may be familiar in some ways, but it was also challenging to play someone with views different from his own.

“I’m from Appalachia and I grew up around coal, but I advocate for climate change. I wanted to make sure my character was portrayed accurately. We all did,” Watts said. “The characters are real people; they’re not archetypes.”

Friday will be the debut performance of “Terra.” The staged reading will begin at 5 p.m.

Audience members are encouraged to bring blankets to the courtyard for seating, and there will be a brief reception at 4:30 p.m. before the performance. The event will be moved inside to the Briggs Theater in the event of rain. The event is free and open to the public.