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Latest Activity: Jul 30, 2014
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The Brownwood Lyric Theatre - a 100 year old theatre in central Texas is being brought back to life after decades of neglect. The building has recently received a substantial donation of $25,000 from the Lower Colorado River Authority, which will enable it to lower utility bills by installing LED lighting throughout the building.
You can read the full story in the Brownwood News Blog, as well being able to see photos showing the renovation's progress....
National Science Foundation criticised for $700,000 musical grant
The National Science Foundation has been criticised by a Republican senator for funding a climate change-themed musical, soon to be presented in New York, to the tune of $700,000. Lamar Smith said that the NSF had funded too many questionable projects, and told Fox News that funding The Great Immensity sounded like a 'waste of tax dollars'.
The show, by New York activist company The Civilians, is described by its creators as both a play and an environmental project. The Great Immensity explores the environmental crisis drawing upon research and interviews conducted in two distinct locations: Barro Colorado Island (BCI) in the Panama Canal and the city of Churchill in arctic Canada. Both of these extraordinary places have natural ecosystems already deeply affected by the shift in climate, centers of scientific research, and relationships to global shipping: the Panama Canal and the Port of Churchill. The play takes its name from an enormous Chinese Panamax ship that the authors observed crossing the Panama Canal.
Fox News spoke to NSF, who said, "The project represents the unique cultural leverage of theater in its attempt to inspire the public’s imagination and curiosity about basic science and its relation to their everyday lives."
University of New Hampshire Tackles Climate Change, Culture Clash With Production of “Sila”
“Sila,” opening February 19 in the UNH Johnson Theatre, is the first winning play from the Woodward International Playwriting Competition to be produced by the UNH Department of Theatre and Dance. Part of Cultural Stages: Woodward International Drama and Dance Initiative, the project is funded by Ellis Woodward, UNH Class of '74.
“Sila” was selected from more than 149 submissions and written by NYC based Canadian playwright, Chantal Bilodeau. The play examines the competing interests shaping the future of the Canadian Arctic and local Inuit population. Set on Baffin Island in the territory of Nunavut, it follows a climate scientist, an Inuit activist and her daughter, two Canadian Coast Guard officers, an Inuit elder and two polar bears as they see their values challenged and their lives become intricately intertwined. Equal parts Inuit myth and contemporary Arctic policy, “Sila” uses puppetry, projections, spoken word poetry and three different languages; English, French & Inuktitut.
Behind the scenes, the “Sila” production team has been at work for months. Because of the subject matter and its educational implications, Director Professor Deb Kinghorn partnered with the UNH Sustainability Institute and the Discovery Program to extend the play’s reach across campus. The creative team also worked with Cambridge based professional theatre company, Underground Railway Theatre (URT), on the creation of several puppets, among them, two life-sized polar bears, which URT will use in their professional production of “Sila” following the UNH performances.
Says Kinghorn, “I have now worked on this play for over a year and a half, and I still love it. I love what it says and how it says it. I love that the play is not just about climate change; it is about people coming together, honoring other cultures, respecting nature, and learning that no one has all the answers, which makes sharing and working together vital, if we are to progress without further damage.”
In keeping with the sustainability theme, Professor Szu-Feng Chen designed and constructed a set using recycled plastic bottles. “I wanted to create a pure and clean world that represents the home of the polar bears,” says Chen, “and in the meantime, keep it abstract to serve as a backdrop for the different layers of the Inuit’s world. The keywords for the overall visual are “light, translucent, and layers.” I decided to use recycled materials to represent the human world. It hints at the impact of the choice we (humans) make may have upon nature and ourselves.”
Kinghorn reflects that working on “something like this, something that is close to your heart and in which you believe ... you don't want to let down the play, the playwright, and all the people who are investing their time in creating the production. As director of the play, I feel this acutely. It is more than just putting on a play; it is creating an experience, which I hope will educate on many levels, make people feel, think, and debate, and also entertain and enlighten.”
The collaboration with the Sustainability Institute and the Discovery Program will provide opportunities for education and debate. There is a scheduled talk back series following every performance. The creative team has invited scientists, activists, and artists to join them on the stage on various evenings to explore the questions raised by "Sila" and to learn what we can do to create the change we wish to see in the world.
“It's what theatre does best,” says Kinghorn, “and I think we are going to do it well.”
Theatre School at DePaul attains LEED Gold Status
CHICAGO — The U.S. Green Building Council has awarded DePaul University’s new Theatre School building the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold designation.
“DePaul’s new Theatre School underscores the fact that Chicago is a great theatre city, and a great architectural city,” said Brian Imus, executive director of the U.S. Green Building Council-Illinois. “Our city now boasts a performing arts building that is a role model for sustainability, and that deserves a thunderous round of applause.”
“This is DePaul’s third building to earn the gold standard for energy efficiency and environmental design,” said the Rev. Dennis H. Holtschneider, C.M., president. Certification of the project was based on green design and construction features that include the following:
“I am thrilled to report that, due to the outstanding efforts of the design and commissioning team, and the project’s contractor, we were awarded LEED Gold,” said Bob Janis, vice president for Facility Operations at DePaul. “This is no small feat with a building that contains so many large volume spaces and operates long hours.”
The Theatre School building was designed by Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects, with Cannon Design. WMA Consulting Engineers designed the mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems. Schuler Shook was the theatre planning consultant. Kirkegaard Associates was the acoustics consultant. W.E. O’Neil Construction was the general contractor. The building was dedicated in an opening ceremony Sept. 12, 2013.
“The Theatre School community would like to thank every single member of our amazing design, engineering, and construction teams,” said John Culbert, dean. “It is a privilege that they created an environmentally responsible building without compromising any aspects of the very specific studio, shop, academic and theatre production needs of our conservatory. This building will serve as the training ground for the next generation of theatre artists. We are thrilled that their work will be shared with the community in a facility that can be considered a standard for sustainability in the performing arts.”
LEED is the U.S. Green Building Council's internationally recognized rating system, and provides third-party verification that a building, home or community was designed and built using strategies aimed at achieving high performance in key areas of human and environmental health.
Paul Draper Named First Director of Sustainability at Sonoma State University
Paul Draper, Theatre Arts & Dance, has been named the first Director of Sustainability at SSU after the successful implementation of Water Works (www.sonoma.edu/waterworks) across the campus last year.
He will also chair the Sustainability Executive Committee, which was formed by Academic Senate action and approved by President Ruben Armiñana last spring. This position is a two-year assignment.
Provost Andrew Rogerson made the appointment saying: "Paul played a central role in developing and coordinating the successful Water Works program. The collaborative effort included academics, exhibitions, performances and activities focused on exploring inland water flow as a resource, theme and metaphor. Paul's commitment to sustainability efforts and education make him an ideal choice for the Director of Sustainability position."
The Director of Sustainability is responsible for serving as a primary SSU contact for long-term or complex sustainability initiatives, including:
In discussing this new position, Draper says, "Sustainability is an ongoing series of efforts, small and large, that lead to change in the way we manage the environment, see and remake culture, and construct new economic models to create a sustainable world.
There are a many, many of folks on campus who are deeply passionate and very knowledgeable about these issues--far more knowledgeable than me. I have learned quite quickly that sustainability isn't something anyone person directs--so the title Director of Sustainability is something of a contradiction.
As I see it, my role and the role of the Sustainability Executive Committee (SEC) is to publicize, support, and foster sustainability actions and ideas on campus, and to connect on-campus efforts with the community. Increased academic engagement is key.
Faculty in particular, as well as administration and staff, need to teach and engage students about sustainability, and in turn listen and respond when student learning and action speaks to the whole University community about opportunities and responsibilities toward sustainability.
That reciprocity is crucial to developing tipping points toward a truly sustainable University, community and world. It comes down to a huge question: what world will our current students inhabit in 25 or 50 years? Education, decisions and actions taken now--for good or ill--will determine that future."
Draper is a professor of theatre arts specializing in acting and directing. He has been director of the Acting Program for 15 years, and immediate past chair of the Department of Theatre Arts & Dance, a post he held for seven years. He also spent six years as chair of the General Education Subcommittee.
"Men in Plaid" Provide Energy Education to Florida Students
"Men in Plaid: The Kilowatt Connection" returns to Florida elementary schools beginning January 13th to help students and their families learn about the importance of wise energy use. Sponsored by Florida Power and Light Company (FPL), the program features professional actors with sets, props and costumes performing in an exciting yet educational, all-school assembly. The winter portion of the tour will travel to schools in the following Florida counties:
"Men in Plaid" is produced by The National Theatre for Children (NTC) and teaches students and their parents how to develop good energy efficiency habits. Prior to the performance, teachers receive digital curriculum and interactive white board activities that are keyed to the important concepts outlined in the live show. The entire school then experiences the fun, funny interactive performance. Once students return to their classroom, teachers can use the interactive white board activities and download digital workbooks and teacher guides to help reinforce the energy educational points from the show.
Using a variety quick costume changes, the two professional actors who perform "Men in Plaid: The Kilowatt Connection" play a multitude of characters from Secret Agents ”Skuller” and “Moldy” to the arch villain “The Slug,” who tries to waste energy all over town. Each performance is action-packed with high energy comedy and hilarious audience interaction. The show comes complete with professionally designed sets, props and costumes. Students learn:
“It’s really important that we educate children and their families to help them understand the importance of our natural resources, and using energy wisely,” says Maureen Wilt, Education Program Manager for FPL. “If we can connect that idea with the ways that electricity is wasted, then we can begin to help them positively change their behavior – to create good energy saving habits as a family.”
We've just popped a piece up on the fabulous Wealthy Theatre in Grand Rapids, MI, who have landed a grant to enable them to add an ETC ION control system to their stage lighting setup.
It should help them in their ambition to switch their stage lighting entirely to LED - although that will still take another $100,000.....
Read the full piece here...
Found this fantastic little nugget on treehugger.com - a video package showing the metamorphosis of New York City's streets over the last 5 - 10 years - highlighting the fact that change is hard to see when it's gradual.....
The original Treehugger article is here....
The Walker Gallery in Minneapolis has seen artist in residence Fritz Haeg redesign a suburban garden from huge lawn to food producing community oasis. 'Edible Estate 15' has seen the Shoenherrs family transform their suburban front garden into an amazing mini suburban farm. You can even join them once a week for Community "Pizza Night in the Garden". Is this the future of the suburbs? - http://blogs.walkerart.org/ecp/2013/06/10/from-lawn-to-garden-edibl...
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