Jennifer Kidwell stars in “Ocean Filibuster.” PHOTO: RYAN COLLERD, COURTESY OF THE PEW CENTER FOR ARTS & HERITAGE
In this video, the global climate crisis takes center-stage “Ocean Filibuster,”Through March 13, the American Repertory Theater at Harvard University will be open for performances Audiences are immersed into a Senate chamber of a global governance body where two parties, Mr. The Ocean and the Majority argue their cases.
Mr. Majority has introduced an “End of Ocean Bill,” hoping to manipulate the body of water into a more profitable entity. The Ocean is backed by a choir to fight for the survival and well-being of the planet. Jennifer Kidwell plays both these opposing characters. She embodies both the stark differences between views and the contradictions in us.
“It points to the paradox that we humans tend to embody. We’re made up of water, it birthed us, yet we act as though we are better than it — that it is not us, that we are not it,” says Kidwell. “We’re invested in a fiction that there is a distinction between our bodies. I think we also tend to ‘other’ those whose opinions we do not share, and it’s more interesting and true to me to dare myself to locate what I would disavow in myself.”
Audiences, too, may look inward after experiencing the performance, identifying the ways in which they’ve unconsciously supported Mr. Majority’s argument.
Climate change is not new territory for the Obie Award-winning creative team Lisa D’Amour and Katie Pearl, who go by PearlDamour. Many of their productions have explored the interconnectedness between humans and the Earth, as well as the cognitive dissonance that humans experience in this connection. Their productions have become more dramatic as the climate crisis has become more severe.
The A.R.T. and Harvard University Center for the Environment commissioned “Ocean Filibuster,” and D’Amour and Pearl had dialogues with local scientists to channel effective and accurate messaging. Despite the serious subject matter, the performance is funny and engaging. It features music by Sxip, abstract video projections from Tal Yarden, and dramatic costumes by Olivera Gajic. The Ocean makes jokes and sings songs, even when faced with danger.
Kidwell hopes that the performance will remind people how each action impacts the ongoing climate crisis.
“I hope the audience will change its relationship to the ocean,” says Kidwell, “and feel a part of it enough to consider the impact of using and/or purchasing things made of plastic, when throwing things ‘away.’ Before clicking “Buy” online, remember there is only one Amazon we can’t live without.”