(Host) One of the scenes in “The Great Warming” shows people in Keene, New Hampshire rehearsing a production titled “Climate Change: The Musical”. The play has never been performed in quite the way its creator had in mind.
But now the composer thinks the country may be ready for some interactive- theatrical-environmental-problem solving.’
VPR’s Susan Keese explains.
(Keese) Wanted: Communities, schools, drama groups – anyone interested in using theatre and some snappy music to bring people together on a big issue.
(Siegel) “So this is the winter scene.”
(piano note plays)
(Siegel sings) “Now we don’t need no shovels. No need for four-wheel drive, hallelujah get your snowballs only $19.95.”
(Keese) Larry Siegel sits at the piano in his house in Westmoreland New Hampshire. The song is from Climate Change: the Musical, which he wrote in 2003.
(Siegel) “It’s meant to be customizable. It would be great to be tried out in communities across the country, really.”
(Keese) For years Seigel has worked with groups, sometimes whole towns. He helps them to create and perform musical theatre pieces about themselves and the things they consider important.
Siegel developed Climate Change with a small group of performers after an official from the City of Keene suggested it.
(Siegel) “The idea was to use the participatory nature of theater to engage people in the issue of climate change. Then they perform it for their own community. People in the audience don’t leave after the show. They stay and they figure out what they’re going to do right then and there in that town.”
(Keese) The play has been performed a couple of times as entertainment. But the city of Keene never found the funding to do the project in the interactive way Siegel intended.
(Man) “Five six seven eight “
(Keese) Now, with the success of Al Gore’s movie and The Great Warming which is where these rehearsal excerpts are from. He thinks it’s time to try again.
(Woman) “Disease vectors, health sectors .”
(Keese) In the the play, a character named Joe sits in front of his television.
He wants to relax after a long work day. But all he can find are depressing programs about global warming.
Here, the conflicting messages of science and industry are making him crazy.
(Woman sings) “Glaciers melting, permafrost melting.”
(Man sings) “More ice than there ever was.”
(Woman sings) “Tundra disappearing.”
(Man sings) “People have to live.”
Woman sings) Species extinction, carbon trading (Man sings) “You can’t predict weather three days from now…”
(Keese) But soon they all gang up on Joe.
(Cast sings) “So then how about you. How about what you do? You drive that big car just to go to the store that’s just one mile away. And don’t get us started about how hard hearted you are when it comes to developing countries who haven’t got half what you’ve got…”
(Keese) Siegel says global warming challenges people to rethink the way they live.
(Siegel) “And I think that’s been what climate change has been up against all along is that it forces people to accuse themselves of complicity and that’s a very tough sale.”
(Keese) The final scene is anything but a conclusion.
(Siegel, at piano sings) “What can we do? What can we do? What will we do?”
(Siegel) “And then we sit down and talk to the audience. What are we gonna do?”
(Keese) Siegel says the answers could require some sacrifices. Incorporating a little music, a little humor and some creative collaboration could only help.
(Siegel, sings) “What will we do?”
(Keese) For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Susan Keese.