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What is the role of artists in the face of this challenge?
It’s not the pandemic that might inspire the theatre community — even unwillingly — having to consider changes. Did we already forgotten the other disaster announced that hangs in the nose of humanity ? The national arts Centre (NAC) recently held a virtual event in English, which focused on ” how artists and arts organizations can rethink their practices and programming to reduce their environmental impact, promoting sustainable development and social justice “. Extensive program than turn green.
Available online from June 10 to 12, The Green Rooms : The Earth is Watching… Let’s Act was the culmination of the Cycle of climate change, the third research initiative around a major social issue designed by Sarah Garton Stanley, the associate artistic director of NAC English Theatre since 2014. A first step of trade was held at the Banff Centre a year ago, including addressing practical issues such as lighting, waste generated by the theatres, the materials to be used in the productions.
The Green Rooms has brought together virtually over a hundred participants, drawn from six canadian cities (including Montreal), plus London and New York. “The event was very rich, very emotional also, sometimes, summed up a few days later his co-commissioner, the playwright and translator Chantal Bilodeau. Some of the conversations were very difficult. There is so much going on in this moment, that everyone is affected in their personal or professional lives. “
It must be said that the news presents, with the changes brought about by the COVID-19 and the protests against racism, has expanded a little the original purpose of the gathering. Anyway, these dimensions of social equity, and ecology are integrated and cannot be separated, is Sarah Garton Stanley. “The issue of environmental racism was really central in the discussions, particularly at the level of the Natives. “As the virus, the degradation of the environment affects more vulnerable populations, recalls his colleague. “The oil refineries, the fracking, all of which is very pollutant is always in territories where people are very poor or already marginalized. “
An issue ignored
Among other speakers covering a variety of topics, viewers were able to hear the aptly named Tom Green, an economist, an ecologist who presented theories aimed at ” restructuring the economy by taking into account the respect of planetary resources and the well-being of human beings “.
A roundtable was also attended by the designers who integrated the climate crisis in their artistic approach. What is the role of artists in the face of this challenge ? Herself a playwright, Chantal Bilodeau points first authors. “The works exist in a social context, they do not exist in a vacuum. And historically, the social contexts have always been addressed. So, why this would be any different with climate change ? “
However, this issue current major continues to be “ignored” in the theatrical works, failing to be sufficiently immediate. “It is a bit of a lack of imagination, I think. For a long time, we heard : it’s too big, we don’t know how to talk about it. “But the drama lived by a person who loses his house because of a flood, it is a story as concrete as any story,” she adds.
The works exist in a social context, they do not exist in a vacuum. And historically, the social contexts have always been addressed. So, why this would be any different with climate change ?
— Chantal Bilodeau
Even before the health crisis, it was expected that the experience of The Green Rooms would be largely virtual. Then, it was to demonstrate “that we can come together, as you can see, create shows without doing a lot of voyagements or produce a lot of waste,” explains Sarah Garton Stanley.
The event has also included a component of co-creation in live. “We really had beautiful presentations, dramatic, musical. And we proved that we can work in ways quite different, that there are other ways to present and create theatre in the future [leaving] an ecological footprint less than great. “For example, by combining the meeting on-site with a virtual presence.
Many theatre creators quebecers seem resistant to the idea of a reinvention of digital enforced by the virus. The director insists : he is not here to replace the theatre as we know it, but to increase, to broaden the possibilities. In this regard, the tragic pandemic could be an opportunity. “It is a time to re-imagine what we can do, how we tell the stories. We live in a period of great social change. So, for me, it is logical to think that there would also be some changes to the theater. “
We really had beautiful presentations, dramatic, musical. And we proved that we can work in ways quite different, that there are other ways to present and create theatre in the future [leaving] an ecological footprint less than great.
— Sarah Garton Stanley
With an economy turned upside down, and, therefore, may be less money for art, Sarah Garton Stanley does not believe that the theatre is going back in exactly the same form. Will it, for example, to recycle elements of scenery, or even reuse the same set design for several shows on a stage ?
“Sometimes, it is easier to be creative when things are changing,” adds Chantal Bilodeau. Because otherwise, it continues to move forward with the train. It resists all change. Now, everything is being questioned. It is a difficult time, it is safe, because the living arts will be the last to come back. But at the same time, this opens a lot of doors. “