September 16, 2022 | ACTIVE LIFE | By Claire Barber (She/Her) | Illustration by Sierra Romero

Auditions are underway for the Theatre Department’s fall production of 23:59: a collection of short plays responding to the climate crisis.

All in all, the production will feature eight to 10 short plays from The New Play Exchange, The Climate Action Plays Project, and individual solicitations.

“I spent several months reading scores and scores of plays and have curated an evening of place,” said Professor Monica Sanchez, director of this fall’s production.

Topics will range the gamut. From water shortage to animal extinction, students will have an opportunity to jump into a wide variety of roles and foster, what Sanchez hopes, is an environment for shared dialogue about the climate crisis.

“I want to create a space for people to come in [our] community and take an hour, an hour and a half, to open themselves up to the experience of other sentient beings dealing with effects of the climate crisis,” said Sanchez.

As for the title, it’s a nod to Carl Sagan’s cosmic calendar. In an attempt to help folks understand the immensity of our universe, Sagan compressed the last 14 billion years into a single solar calendar year.

“If the event of the Big Bang happens at midnight on January 1st, humans do not appear until December 31; recorded history occupies only the last few seconds of the last minute of December 31st—23:59,” said Sanchez. In other words, humans have existed for a miniscule amount of time, yet have caused pretty significant damage in those last few seconds.

“Look how quickly we have changed the environment. Look how quickly we have screwed things up,” said Sanchez.

While the department hopes to attract Theatre students, Sanchez also hopes the production will reach a wide swath of students. “I really want to reach out to some students who may not otherwise feel adventurous or experienced or confident to throw their hat in the ring,” said Sanchez.

While Sanchez created the play line-up from scratch, her intentions were less about the specific climate topics at hand and more about the opportunity to use climate change as a unifying force.

“It’s something that can transcend specific cultures and subcultures within the college and the college as a microcosm of the bigger world so it’s an opportunity,” said Sanchez. “Everybody has a stake in it, regardless of who they are. And even if you don’t think you have a stake in it, you will be affected by it. We are affected by it. We’re in it now.”

Rehearsal begins Sept. 28, and the show opens on Nov. 3 in the black box theatre of Cornerstone.

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