Arts: Visual and Performing

Lydia Fort, PhD

Assistant Professor, Theater Studies, ECAS

Halle Institute for Global Research/URC Award

The Life-Cycle of Eco-theater Practice: Researching and producing the play Mlima’s Tale by Lynn Nottage

Theatre audiences today, particularly those in younger demographics, are becoming increasing drawn to productions that address socially relevant issues. There is a desire to experience theatre that discusses issues that they are currently facing in their lives and that reflect the concerns that are affecting the world right now. Theatre can be more than entertainment, and they are excited to discover that theatre can be used as a tool for change. While this has not fully taken hold in mainstream American theatre, a sea change has definitely begun to be felt in the field. One of the great African American playwrights living today, Lynn Nottage, has taken up this charge in her play Mlima’s Tale, which explores the illegal Ivory trade. Ms. Nottage’s play is a notable example of an Eco-play in that it presents, in anthropological terms, the full life cycle of ivory from the exploitation of the African continent’s largest megafauna through its transformation into a consumable good. Similarly, this proposal is to research the full life cycle of creating Eco- theatre, defined as, a holistic approach to theater-making in which content, process, and production are tethered to complex environmental questions, beginning with field study in Kenya where the play begins and then producing the play as a co-production with 7 Stages Theatre in Atlanta, GA. The production will follow sustainable theatre protocols and practices in order to create baseline measures that professional theatres can use as for classification of “Green Theatre” standards.