Dear Climate, 2013-present.
“General Assembly,” a Dear Climate installation at Storm King Art Center, 2018
CLIMATE LENS is a network of theatre makers and culture workers who pursue an imaginatively expansive approach to the phenomena of climate chaos, seeking new perspectives that include but also move beyond questions of politics and policy–and beyond expressions of fear, anger, and despair.
Instead of focusing on climate change as a problem, we nurture a theatre practice dedicated to uncovering and displacing the habits of mind and feeling underlying the current crisis and its history. Thus the primary target of our critique is not climate change but rather anthropocentrism, the world view that places human beings and their interests at the center of every reality, and which sanctions the same hierarchical thinking that also sustains sexism, racism, and injustice.
Learning from progressive movements of the past, we recognize the importance of elaborating new modes of analysis as well as confronting problems. As feminism, for example, used gender as a lens to reveal and resist patriarchy, the underlying source of sexism, CLIMATE LENS proposes climate as the clarifying lens through which to reveal and resist the socio-political issues of our day.
Specifically, CLIMATE LENS explores theatrical ways of partnering with the more-than-human world: the world of landscapes, oceans, plants, the other animals, and natural forces like the climate. Through these partnerships, which we pursue both imaginatively and in activist practice, we seek to expose, disrupt, and replace the myopia and alienation that currently limits and lethally distorts the relationship between us humans and the countless life forms and forces which whom we share the earth.
THE CLIMATE LENS PLAYBOOK
By Una Chaudhuri, with members of CLIMATE LENS
- Practice literalism. End the tradition of turning everything into a symbol for human life.
- Occupy science. Befriend facts and factoids. Enrich theatre with the bristly nomenclatures of the natural sciences.
- Yes to vastness, and yes also to the infinitesimal. Toggle between the Big Picture and Reality-at-Hand, however tiny. Also between Deep History and the Here and Now. Do the Scalar Slide.
- Practice Glocality: intense focus on our localities, but with global eyes in the back our heads, scanning for interrelatedness and beaming signals out to other localities–consciously, urgently.
- Loosen your epistemologies. Don’t believe everything you think.
- Flatten your ontologies. Everyone and everything invited in.
- Unflatten your geographies. What happens here doesn’t stay here. The Far Away folds right onto the Right Here. Make plays with pleated places.
- Take all animals seriously, not just human ones. Also plants, including weeds, nettles, hemlock. . . Also minerals, rocks, currents of all kinds, clouds, winds, and other atmospheric forces. Also bacteria. Especially bacteria.
- Disaggregate the human. Who drives the carbon economy? Who profits? Who suffers?
- Don’t worry about working up empathy. Sympathy’s all you need. Feeling for others is just as powerful—and less anthropocentric?—than feeling with others.
- De-Sentimentalize “Nature.” Keep the awe, lose the “Awww!!!” Forge new affective pathways to the non-human, beyond sadness, guilt, and fear. Invite in humor, anger, joy, irony, sarcasm . . .
- Stand alongside our fellow species like a breathing exercise, to open up space in our cells for epistemologies of the biosphere that our bodies currently don’t hold, or ones we need to re-ignite. Physicalize awe.
- Congregate, coalesce, flock, swarm, meet and greet. But also: disperse, disseminate, distribute, scatter and spread.
- Biology over psychology, geology over sociology, creaturely life over life style.
- Invent plans as well as plots, tell times as well as stories, write worlds as well as plays.
- Create theatres of species life; fill the stage with the Earth.
Zoõpolis: Animals in the City, with Marina Zurkow, 2010
The Ecocide Project, with Fritz Ertl, Shonni Enelow, and Josh Hoglund, 2010
Queerak, with Fritz Ertl and Daniel Glenn, 2008
The Animal Project, with Fritz Ertl and Steven Drukman, 2006
The Resistance Project, with Fritz Ertl and Steven Drukman, 2002