A full room gave a standing ovation to Climate Cabaret's first performance at the Fahs Theater in Princeton. The show offered wit, insight and beauty in theatrical sketches and songs about the defining issue of our time.
The show began with a poem written and performed by a carbon dioxide molecule,
and featured an appearance by Titania from Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream, who warned of a "distemperature".
Climate Cabaret standards like "Earth Logic in Space" and "Carbon Dating" mixed with more recent sketches: "Headed for a Cliff" and "The Tense Family."
Midway through we debuted Sam Russell's new film, "The King's Speech on Climate Change," which grew out of our climate-adaptation of The King's Speech, and stars our own Fred Dennehy.
Performing were Cheryl Anne Jones, Basha Parmet, Fred Dennehy, and Steve Hiltner.
Thanks to Dunbar Birnie and the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Princeton for sponsoring and hosting the performance, and to the local chapter of Citizens' Climate Lobby for their support and inspiration. Thanks also to Perry Jones and Alison Cote for lighting assistance, and videographer Chuck McEnroe for documenting the evening.
All theatrical sketches and songs written or adapted by Stephen K. Hiltner
One of Climate Cabaret's theatrical sketches--a climate-adapted version of The King's Speech, has been made into a film by filmmaker Sam Russell. The five minute film stars Fred Dennehy as King George VI, with script and concept by Steve Hiltner, and James Degnen producer. Sam did a beautiful job with this movie, which has been shown on Climate Monitor TV and is being submitted to environmental film festivals.
The film can also be viewed on Sam Russell's website:
Come on Friday, Jan. 18, to a free performance of Climate Cabaret's original theatrical sketches and climate-adapted songs at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Princeton. Gather at 7:00 for light refreshments. Show starts at 7:30pm.
Thanks to our generous Unitarian hosts for allowing us to use their Sophia Fahs Theater, a wonderful little theater which, among other things, long ago served as the birthplace of McCarter Theater's children's theater programming.
The UUCP's Fahs Theater is located at 50 Cherry Hill Road in Princeton, close to where it crosses 206. Lots of parking. Use an entrance towards the right of the building.
Update: A number of things conspired to make the show in Atlantic City a no-go, but the good news is that, in the process of preparing, we discovered a hidden gem of a theater right in Princeton, where we will perform Jan. 18. Thanks to Citizens Climate Lobby for leading us to the Fahs Theater.
We'll be taking a look at that big gamble in the sky as the Climate Cabaret heads to Atlantic City to perform for the Citizens Climate Lobby. We'll play some sustainable jazz, sing some climate-adapted standards like My Climate Valentine. Titania will deliver her prescient forebodings from 1595 about a "distemperature" that is our doing. The Tense Family will argue over whether the future is imperative or conditional. And, just in case you missed it on the radio, King George VI may even show up to rally us to a great calling.
The date for our show is Saturday evening, January 26, at the Claridge Hotel.
Our performance is part of the 2019 Citizens' Climate Lobby Mid-Atlantic Regional Conference:
Gambling with Climate Risk: bipartisan challenges and opportunities. Friday, January 25, 3pm - Sunday, January 27, 12pm
Atlantic City, NJ
While in Atlantic City, place your bet on the environmental ethic being demonstrated by the Atlantic City wastewater treatment plant, which blows many a municipality away with its green features. The wind generator in the photo is one of three seen by a delegation of Princetonians during a tour of the Atlantic City wastewater treatment plant five years ago.
The 8th annual New Jersey One-Minute Play Festival brought together 8 directors and 40 actors to perform 60 one-minute plays by 30 playwrights. No small organizational feat, but #1MPF, which I believe was conceived in NJ, does this all over the country and overseas.
Again this year I supplied two plays having to do with climate change. One is a dark chant, in which the characters are relentlessly pulling carbon out of the ground, encouraged by indifferent leaders and an economy that is blind to future consequence. Finally, one actor stops and, getting the others' attention, says she's tired of being dystopia's lackey.
The other play is a satirical version of a marriage between ignorance and arrogance, after which the minister tells everyone present, "You may now kiss the future ... goodbye."
Climate Cabaret returns to Labyrinth Bookstore for a performance of some new material, including climate adaptations of Shakespeare's Titania, and The King's Speech, along with some Sustainable Jazz.
In Climate Cabaret, theater and music combine to find comedy, poignancy and beauty in the greatest challenge of our time--our relationship to nature--both inner and outer. The earth--its needs and vulnerabilities--can be better understood if thought of as a body with surprising parallels to our own. In this cabaret of life on earth, molecules become characters, and classic songs are "climate-adapted" to speak of human folly and love for a planet.
Featured actors are Cheryl Jones, Basha Parmet, Kitty Getlik, and Fred Dennehy. Phil Orr on piano. All scripts and music by musician and naturalist Steve Hiltner, best known for his writings at PrincetonNatureNotes.org.
Many people have commented that we should perform our climate change theater in schools. With our next show coming up on June 13, 6pm, at the Labyrinth Bookstore in Princeton, I made a solo journey to Littlebrook Elementary in Princeton to perform CO2--We're an It for 4th and 5th graders during Science Day. Six classes came through for 20 minutes each, enough time to discuss climate change, then perform for them as a carbon dioxide molecule. Aiding the discussion were a few props: a collection of C's, O's and H's, and an exhaust pipe. Together, we found names for things like H2O and CH4 and CO2, and talked about how even good things can be trouble if there's too much of them, whether it be water in a basement or too much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Next time they look at a car, they may remember how closed windows create a greenhouse effect. They may notice the exhaust pipe tucked underneath, and think about how the invisible gases coming out of it are transforming the world they will live in this century.
Those ten minutes of discussion were aimed at assisting in their understanding the playfully serious theater sketch that followed, in which CO2 tells the story of how a tiny, invisible, odorless, wonderful and seemingly harmless molecule is, through our doing, turning "the skies and seas into eternal enemies."
Science Day at Littlebrook, by the way, is an extraordinary event, organized by parents Jenny Ludmer and Molly Jones, along with science teacher Martha Friend.
At a recent performance, the star of the show, planet earth, stood front and center. One recurring theme of climate change is that, though we are individually very intelligent, that intelligence is often not expressed collectively. We are, collectively, faced with a choice, to adapt now to reduce climate change's impact later, or be forced to adapt much more later on, as changing climate wreaks increasing havoc with our lives. Our courage, generosity and resourcefulness are on full display any time disaster strikes, amply demonstrated during last year's hurricane season. At those times, we display a powerful, heroic sense of teamwork and unity. Why don't we exercise these admirable traits to shift now, collectively and as individuals, away from those carbon-based fuels that serve present needs but endanger the future?
To highlight this vexing lack of collective intelligence, Climate Cabaret has "climate-adapted" the wonderful 1939 lyrics by Yip Harburg in The Wizard of Oz.
If We Only Had a Brain
The carbonated version
(Adapted by Stephen Hiltner, from the original lyrics by Yip Harburg)
We could while away the hours,
Conferrin' with the flowers
Consultin' with the rain.
Had we listened to the warnings
We’d have conquered global warming
If we only had a brain.
We’d be givin’ back to nature,
And tell the legislature
To stop being so insane.
Solar panels we’d be linkin’
Of the future we’d be thinkin’
If we only had a brain.
Oh I, can’t tell you why our cities are near the shore.
Leading up to our free performance at the Arts Council of Princeton, April 18, 7pm, here are some scenes from the show--photos from rehearsals, and a videotaped performance. Come check it out in beautiful Solley Theater!
Kitty Getlik plays a therapist in Turf Therapy, as one of her more difficult patients, a Suburban Lawn, works through its issues of chemical addiction and an irrational fear of weeds and bugs.
I don't know, this guy seemed pretty nice, but what's that exhaust pipe doing on his right arm? He said his name is Captain Hooked-On-Fossil-Fuels. Cheryl's thinking "Why do all these guys come with issues?"
Thanks to Dwaine Williamson for videotaping this performance of "CO2: We're an It," in which CO2, not wanting to be the bad guy, tells a packed room at the Trenton Library to "find energy above the ground and leave the carbon underground." (May need to crank the volume a bit. CO2 molecules tend to be soft spoken.)
Steve Hiltner and pianist Phil Orr bring an element of original Sustainable Jazz to Climate Cabaret performances.