Ashley Kronebusch, Staff Writer
In 2017, the American Psychological Association released a report detailing the effects of climate change on mental health, leading to what has been coined as “climate grief.” The play Green: An Elegy to Summer, directed by Taous Claire Khazem, challenges us to tackle this grief head on and confront the apocalyptic future that awaits humanity if nothing is done to prevent climate change.
Green is set in the near future and tells the story of Joan, a young woman who has invented a machine that can purify water using renewable resources in a world where clean water is increasingly scarce. When the government comes after Joan, she runs away to a small, self-sufficient commune that is hidden away from the world, wracking the small community with the question of whether they should risk revealing Joan’s invention to the world, or prioritize their own safety. Tense and ambiguous, the play is a rallying call, but also mournful reflection on the neglected responsibility we have to the planet.
The play was written somewhat unusually, with playwright Carson Kreitzer writing the first draft in a mere 48 hours in 2014 at a playwriting jam run by Pulitzer Prize winner Paula Vogel. Participants wrote plays containing as many elements as possible from a list of ingredients, such as “Joan of Arc,” “a philosophical defense of crossdressing” and “a folk song that rallies.” These elements shaped the play in various ways, like protagonist Joan being inspired by Joan of Arc, but never feel forced, as the story and characters flow very well together.
“Green is a unique and wonderful production, and one of the really wonderful parts of the process has been that this is, to my knowledge, only the second time Green has ever been performed,” said Danny Reinan, who plays Joan. “It really feels like we’re taking this incredible, evocative, and emotional work and building something with it, being real trailblazers.”
The process of creating this performance has not only been exciting, however, as it has also been challenging. Sophie Finnerty, who plays Terry, said that “[i]t’s a hard process working on a show that’s about environmental activism, and really thinking about what messages are import to share and what messages are we missing in the show. How do you present something that’s a really controversial topic when it really shouldn’t be in a way that is engaging for people and they don’t shut down?”
Challenging, thought provoking, and unforgettable, Green: A Elegy to Summer is a must-see. Performances will be held on Nov. 15-16 and 21-23 at 7 PM and Nov. 23 at 3 PM in the Tjornhom-Nelson Theater in Foss, with tickets available through the online ticket office and immediately before the shows.