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Theater and science collide to explore climate change


On Saturday night, theater enthusiasts and climate activists gathered at the Freedom Theater at the Armory to see Sophia Urban, a senior FAA official, present her senior thesis, “Hurricane Diana. The program also featured a discussion with Deanna Here, assistant professor at the University of Alaska, and Donald Wuebbles, professor emeritus at the University of Alaska.

The discussion focused on the impact of artistic mediums on addressing data-intensive issues such as climate change.

“I think art is an important way for people to understand and process the world around them.” I think the combination of art and science can help people understand the many perspectives through which we interact with the world and each other.

Instead of focusing on the facts and figures of climate change, the speakers centered the conversation on the emotional impact the global crisis may have on people.

Upham posed one of the most poignant questions in the conversation when he asked the speaker, “How can we keep hope alive?

He said, “I think one of the biggest ways I keep hope alive is to see the beauty around us every moment, day after day, week after week, month after month.” I think it’s really frustrating, but when I look around our community, I see people helping each other in many, many ways all the time.”

The speakers also emphasized that the climate crisis is not inherently unsolvable. As with many other issues, bringing the issue to the forefront of the conversation is the first step in implementing change.

“Despair,” Ublers said, “will get us absolutely nowhere.” Solutions do exist. The question is how do we gain the willpower to try to move forward and make sure we get the right solutions.”

The discussion further explored how to mobilize people to take action during the climate crisis and how to give people hope that the world will change.

In a common recommendation on recycling and the use of public transportation, the speakers took a different approach by promoting artistry and communication in the spaces where people live as a primary way to promote climate action.

“I always say that the two important things you can do are to vote carefully and to communicate with others,” Ublers said.” Tell them why this is so important.

Theater and science collide to explore climate change

Hurricane Diana, written by Madeline George, tells the story of Dionysus, a Greek mythological figure who returns to the modern world and tries to convince a group of humans to restore the Earth to its pristine state.

Upham found the inspiration to stage the play after reading it in a theater and environment class. The play’s lighthearted comedic colors combined with personal philosophies were part of what attracted Upham to the idea.

“A lot of times when you think of theater, especially theater about social issues, there’s a very strong preconception that it’s going to be preachy and it’s going to be very depressing,” Upham explains.” I think the beauty of this play is that it doesn’t do that. It’s funny and has light and darkness.”

Another inspiration for organizing the event came from a desire to draw attention to the need for diversity in the arts and sciences, especially in the LGBTQ+ community, which is a theme of the play itself.

“It’s important to me to have events like this on campus because there are really cool students here, and there are a lot of people who are passionate about bringing the arts and sciences together,” Upham said.

For more information on events at the Armory Freedom Theater or to become a student producer, readers can visit the Illinois Theater Support Pathways website.

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