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Creighton thespians tackle climate change in Theatre for Social Justice course

If all the world’s a stage, Creighton University students in this semester’s Theatre for Social Justice course are learning ways art can help them leave that stage a little brighter, cleaner, better.

Amy Lane, PhD, assistant professor and coordinator of Creighton’s theatre and dance programs in the Department of Fine and Performing Arts, is teaching the Theatre for Social Justice class focused on climate change and culminating in a Nov. 17 performance of plays penned by internationally renowned playwrights and the students themselves. The Creighton class is part of the 2017 edition of Climate Change Theatre Action (CCTA), a worldwide effort to draw attention to the environmental crisis, held in concert with the United Nations’ Conference of the Parties (COP) gathering in Bonn, Germany, Nov. 6 through 17.

Creighton is Nebraska’s representative in the project, which comprises institutions in nearly all 50 states in the Union and several dozen countries from around the world. All performances will take place between mid-October and mid-November to help celebrate the 23rd gathering of the COP.

“It’s a truly international event,” said Lane, who also taught the course in the spring with a focus amid ongoing debates over immigration. “To have Creighton students who are adding their own plays, their own voices to the conversation, it’s quite an opportunity to dig into some of these themes and explore the different ways climate change is affecting people.”

With guest appearances from Creighton faculty and administration, the nine students in Lane’s course are in the midst of researching multifaceted approaches to the issue, looking at the science and the social science behind the strain being placed on the environment. From sustainability in agriculture to ministering to climate refugees, the planned performances aim to touch on several different aspects of the crisis.

Lane said students in the course are working on five-minute plays focused on pollution, the protection of animals and climate change denial.

The Nov. 17 performance will spend about an hour on short plays produced by Creighton students and professional playwrights, and conclude with a panel conversation and audience talk-back featuring Creighton faculty and other local voices on climate change.

In addition to the Nov. 17 performance, the class is also going on the road, taking its plays to Gross Catholic and Omaha Burke high schools in the metro Omaha area.

“It’s another great learning experience on top of a chance to showcase what talented young artists we have at Creighton,” Lane said. “We’re seeing how artists engage social justice and what role theater can play. The idea is to talk about climate change, to discuss it and think about ways that we can, together, seek solutions.”


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