BIG GREEN THEATER
Big Green Theater (BGT) is an eco-playwriting program for public elementary students that uplifts the imaginations of young people most impacted by our new climate reality and brings their ideas to life on stage. BGT aims to inspire students to manifest a sustainable and just community by using the power of their creative voice.
If you are interested in a Big Green Theater program for your theater or school, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for options. We are open to new partnerships that will bring BGT to your local community!
Big Green Theater (BGT) was initially conceived by Bushwick Starr founders Noel Allain and Sue Kessler. The program was developed and run in partnership with Jeremy Pickard and Superhero Clubhouse from 2010-2020. The Bushwick Starr is continuing to run BGT in North Brooklyn, while Superhero Clubhouse is seeding the program in new neighborhoods.
Catch the culminating production of Big Green Theater: Queens, a new partnership with Astoria Performing Arts Center (APAC) and fifth-graders from P.S.152 in Woodside! The filmed eco-play The Mystical Jungle and Luminescence City, written by student playwrights and directed by Lanxing Fu alongside a full creative team of performers, designers, musicians, and filmmakers. WATCH IT HERE
Written by fifth-grade students of P.S.152: Atqiya Afia (Spirit), Momin Ahmad, Jensine Ahmed, Afia Farzana (Shade Z), Subee Ghimire, Areeb Islam, Sabrina Khan, Elijas Kacic, Mohammad Nawaz, Tiffany Celine Ngo, Laura Sofia Porras, Aylin Ramos-Priego (Zero/Echo), Harman Singh
Directed by Lanxing Fu
Assistant Directed and Choreographed by Tony Williams II
Director of Photography & Film Editor Matthew Dunivan
Songs Composed, Arranged, and Music Directed by Yan Li in collaboration with BGT student playwrights
Visual Design by Lexy Ho-Tai
Costume Design by Saawan Tiwari
Sound Design, Mixing, and Mastering by Jim Petty
Lighting Design by Dan Jobbins
Production Coordinator Rachel Denise April
BGT Teaching Artists Lanxing Fu, Nana Dakin, Tony Williams II
Performed by Rasheedat Badejo, Nana Dakin, Aja Downing, Antígona González, Chris Ignacio
BGT Program Director Lanxing Fu
BGT Program Manager Jeremy Pickard
APAC Executive Director Jeff Griffin
APAC Artistic Director Dev Bondarin
APAC Education Coordinator Josephine McDonald
P.S.152 Principal Vincent Vitolo
P.S.152 Assistant Principal Lisa Russo
Classroom Guest Presenters Ana Liza Caballes & Neil Patterson Jr.
Special Thanks: Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer, Vincent Vitolo, Lisa Russo, Ryan Naso, Brandon Lee Harris, Lewis Shore, Phil, Teal & Meg, Oxygen Eventworks, Kaufman Astoria Studios, AAE, Goode Family Foundation, Parents and Teachers of our student playwrights.
This program was supported, in part, by public funds from the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council through the Cultural After-School Program (CASA) Initiative.
Big Green Theater classroom sessions and filming for this performance took place on occupied Lenapehoking (the land of the Lenape), with respect to our Shinnecock, Wampanoag, and Haudenosaunee neighbors. Support the native people of Lenapehoking: The Lenape Center; American Indian Community House. Learn about the land you occupy: native-land.ca
Atqiya Afia (Spirit) is a 5th grader who likes to draw and listen to songs. Some of the songs Atqiya likes to listen to are in Japanese, English, and more. Their favorite subject is Math.
Momin Ahmad is a 5th grade student at P.S.152. He loves to to play and do active things, and his favorite thing to do outside of school is play games. He wants to thank all team members on Big Green Theater and my mom who loved me so much.
Jensine Ahmed is a 5th grade student at P.S.152. She loves to play games and her favorite thing to do outside of school is hang out with friends. She wants to thank you all for inspiring her to become a better writer.
Afia Farzana (Shade Z) enjoys music and likes to play games. Afia is a 5th grader and is 10 years old. Their favorite subjects are English, Math, and Science. Some languages they listen to are Japanese and English and they like green, white, black, and more colors.
Subee Ghimire is a 5th grade student at P.S. 152. She loves to watch YouTube and go to the park after school. She loves doing arts and crafts and making stories.
Areeb Islam likes drawing and learning about living things. He is making a small story. He is very creative. He loved writing this play. It makes him feel very proud.
Eljas Kacic is a 5th grade student at P.S. 152. He loves to free-write, and learn/do science and his favorite thing to do outside of school is researching a wide variety of things, mostly science related. He wants to thank the actors, other playwrights, designers, teachers, and the audience, along with everybody else who helped with this play for creating such an amazing experience and for the wonderful play everybody will now enjoy.
Mohammad Nawaz is a 5th grade student at P.S.152. He loves to play video games in his free time and his favorite thing to do outside of school is eating fast food, right after school ends.
Tiffany Ngo is a 5th grade student at P.S.152. She loves to make crafts and draw. Her favorite thing to do outside of school is to make art (punch needling, diamond paintings). She is very grateful to be able to participate in this program!
Laura Sofia Porras is a 5th Grade student at P.S. 152. She loves to dance and her favorite thing to do outside of school is to go to the park and play with her friends.
Aylin Ramos-Priego (Zero/Echo) is a 5th grade student at P.S 152, He loves to talk to his friends on Discord, to use he/they pronouns, to draw, and to watch Anime. Their favorite thing to do is to cosplay! He wants to thank Lani, Tony, JoJo, Nana, and everyone else for making him feel safe! Zero is pansexual and non-binary and loves cats and hamsters!
Harman Singh loves to draw and play video games. His favorite thing to do is to play outside with friends. Harman wants to thank the after school teachers for the opportunity to join BGT to write plays.
Rasheedat “Ras” Badejo (Performer) is excited to be a part of this new chapter in BGT history, but even more excited to play Noah Nathan in this awesome film! Ras is a Generative Theater Artist, Arts Educator, and Death Doula-in-training from Kansas City, Missouri. They have their BA in Theater-Performance from the University of Missouri-Kansas City (2015) and have recently been accepted into New School’s Arts Management and Entrepreneurship program and will be starting in the fall. You can find them on the ‘gram @RasBad.
Rachel Denise April (Production Coordinator, she/her) is a Guyanese-American Stage Manager, who has studied Theatrical Design and Stage Management at the City College of New York. Select Credits include: Chicken and Biscuits (Douglas Lyons), Retreat Workshop (Tracey Conyer Lee), The Big Green Theater Festival 9 (SuperHero Playhouse) The Hole (Zhailon Levingston), Neptune (Timothy DuWhite), The Genesis Plays (The In[heir]itance Project), Anaïs Nin Goes to Hell (MTWorks), Macbeth (of the Oppressed)(Fab Marquee Productions), and The Fire This Time Festival 2015 (The Kraine Theater). She is currently a Creative Partner of Different Translation.
Nana Dakin (Performer & Teaching Artist) is a Thai American director of new work, classics and devised performance based in New York City. Her work pursues social equity by examining the way culture is constructed and unsettling dormant biases. Recent productions include LOVE LETTER TO A SEED (Clubbed Thumb Winterworks, NYC), WHITE PEARL (Royal Court Theatre, London), and DAMAGE JOY (Bangkok International Performing Arts Meeting, Bangkok). Upcoming: SUNWATCHER (The Civilians FINDINGS Series) and MAMMELEPHANT (Theater Row). As a teaching artist she has taught directing, devising and creative movement workshops in Thailand, the U.K and the U.S. www.nanadakin.com
Aja Downing (Performer) is extremely pleased and excited to be a part of this project and ready for all the projects to come. Aja graduated from The American Musical Arts Academy in 2016. Some of Aja’s previous roles were Annette in TjLovesSally4eva, Fairy Godmother in Cinderella, Jojo in Cher Chez Le Femme , Cassandra in Alex and Eugene , Christine Daè in The Phantom of the Opera, Aida in Aida and Ella Baker in Bayard: a new musical. Aja would like to thank her Mom and Dad for all they’re support and love! And also thank the incredible cast and crew of Big Green Theater!
Matthew Dunivan (Director of Photography & Film Editor) is honored to be a part of this Big Green Theater project. Past film/theater hybrid projects include A Midsummer Night’s Dream with Apocolyptic Artists Ensemble, and American Arcana with Astoria Performing Arts Center. Other self produced projects include Happy Birthday, D***weed, Dying to get Laid, and A Place for Sad Face. Matthew is also an actor and photographer. www.matthewdunivanphoto.com
Lanxing Fu (Director & Teacher Artist) is a Chinese-American theater artist and co-director of Superhero Clubhouse, uniting ecology and theater to enact justice, cultivate hope, and inspire a thriving future. With SHC: she is the playwright and co-creator of Mammelephant (The New Ohio / HERE Arts Center / Theatre Row) the program director of The Living Stage NYC (University Settlement), and a co-creator of PLUTO (no longer a play), (The Brick) and JUPITER (a play about power), (La MaMa). Outside of SHC, she works as a freelance director, creative producer, and writer. She is a TCG 2020 Rising Leader of Color and has been a workshop facilitator and speaker with Asian American Arts Alliance, The New School, Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory, TCG National Conference, Cultivating Ensembles, and more.
Antígona González (Performer) is a Mexican theater maker. Besides being a creator and performer, she has also been engaged in theater production, lighting design, and technical departments. Co-founder of Colectivo Aguardiente which develops community art projects based on the oral history interview process. Member of Teatro Linea de Sombra (Mexico) since 2007. She has collaborated with Cie Carabosse (Niort, France), The Commons choir, FABnyc (NYC) among others. Artist-in-residence at Downtown Art, 2017 (NYC). She is grateful to APAC & Superhero Clubhouse’s team for making her part of this wonderful project.
Lexy Ho-Tai‘s (Visual Designer, she/her) multi-disciplinary art and teaching practice explores imaginative and tangible world-building through craft and play. Working in a range of mediums, her collaborative and participatory practice employs humor, imagination, and absurdity to invite viewers to contemplate pressing social and environmental issues. She believes that joy is a radical act of resistance, and that play forges a powerful space for audiences to envision and work towards alternative futures. Residencies include the Watermill Center, Flux Factory, ARoS Museum, Everglades National Park and the Museum of Arts and Design.
Chris Ignacio (Performer) is a Filipino-American theatre artist, musician, puppeteer, producer and educator. He has toured nationally and abroad since graduating from The Boston Conservatory at Berklee. He is a Culture Push Fellow for Utopian Practice, and Queens Council on the Arts: Community Engagement Commissioning grantee for his self-produced project Co-written, which involves collaborative songwriting with young people of color.
Dan Jobbins (Lighting Designer) APAC Design credits: Children of Eden, Secret Garden, Human Comedy, Blood Brothers, In The Bones. Regional Credits: Sense and Sensibility (Cape Fear Regional Theatre), Cake (Cape Fear Regional Theater), Lost Highway (Merry Go Round Playhouse), Little Shop of Horrors (Revision Theater)
Yan Li (Composer, Arranger, Musical Director) is a composer/lyricist, music director, and writer. His musicals include Made In China (NY Times Critics’ Pick), Sweet Nothings, Double-A Dax, Enjoy the Ride, The Ghost Says Boo, and Bethune. Recent productions include Promenade (NYU), Marguerite (APAC), The Fantasticks (Weston Playhouse), The Age of Innocence (McCarter Center, Hartford Stage), Oh What a Lovely War (Marymount), From Here to Eternity (Ogunquit Playhouse), and Side Show (Trinity Rep). Yan is an alum of NYU’s Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program and the Royal Conservatory of Music. Thanks to APAC and Superhero Clubhouse for taking me along for this story, and my wife for listening to me hum it over and over at home.
Josephine McDonald (APAC Education Coordinator) is an actor, arts educator, and program assistant for Big Green Theater this year through APAC. She has worked as a project assistant for APAC on Playmaking and Summer Stars, and is thrilled to be joining BGT learning from the wisdom of all at Superhero Clubhouse. She is proud to have trained and taught at Shakespeare & Co in Lenox, MA, where she is from originally. When in New York, she enjoys riding her bicycle all around the city, working in the arts however possible, and providing compassionate, challenging, and justice-minded arts education for her students.
Jim Petty (Sound Design, Mixing, and Mastering) is a sound designer and engineer with Five OHM Productions. Past productions include The 8th(Secret Theater), How To Load a Musket(59e59 Theaters), She Persisted(Atlantic Theater Company), 12th Night(Shakespeare on the Sound), Folk Wandering (A.R.T.NY), Playing Hot(Ars Nova), The Elementary Spacetime Show(Playwrights Downtown), Noise(Playwrights Downtown), 1969: The Second Man(NYTW), Midsummer Night’s Dream(Shakespeare on the Sound), One Night Only(McGinn Cazelle), Forbidden Colors(La Mama).
Saawan Tiwari (Costume Designer) is a Brooklyn-based costume designer and graduate of the University of Michigan. Credits – Black and Brown Theatre: Mirror on the Wall (CD) U-M: La Boheme (ACD), Alcina (ACD), Rude Mechanicals: A Streetcar Named Desire (CD), Wolves (CD) MUSKET: Bare: A Pop Opera (CD), Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson (ACD) Runyonland Productions: Shel: The Historically Fictionalized Musical (CD) Bayview Music Festival: West Side Story (ACD), An Opera Lover’s Guide to Love and Murder (CD)
Tony M. Williams II (Assistant Director, Choreographer, & Teaching Artist) is a New York transplant that has worked nationally as both a director and a choreographer. Tony started training in high school in musical theatre. His love of dance took him to Jacksonville University where he continued his training additionally in ballet, jazz, and modern, earning him a B.F.A. Since graduating in 2011 Tony has worked for companies such as Clayton State University, A.P.A.C., Players Theatre, Prospect Theatre, Bronx Arts Ensemble, and New York City Center.
Astoria Performing Arts Center (APAC) is an award-winning non-profit theater company dedicated to engaging the residents of Astoria, Long Island City, and greater Queens in contemporary social and cultural issues through live performance and arts education. Established in 2001, APAC has produced a diverse mix of new plays and reimagined musicals and developed dozens of new works. APAC also provides a robust array of community and arts education programs that offer writing and performing opportunities to students, seniors, and residents of all ages with and without disabilities. Recent productions include the New York premieres of Marguerite by Michael Cooper and Anton Dudley featuring Tony Award-winner Cady Huffman and Jump by Charly Evon Simpson directed by Arpita Mukherjee, the AUDELCO Award-winning revival of Caroline, or Change by Tony Kushner and Jeanne Jeanine Tesori, directed by Dev Bondarin, and the New York Innovative Theater Award-winning New York premiere of Queen by Madhuri Shekar. For more information, please visit www.apacny.org
The BGT program begins in the school, where a group of fourth- and fifth-grade students meets for three months during after-school hours. The curriculum is structured as a creative outlet for students to learn the tools of playwriting and the fundamentals of climate and environmental justice, practice critical thinking, and develop an expressive voice. The process is rigorous and fun, with lots of personal attention and constructive feedback along the way.
Guest professionals from the fields of science, activism, and environmental justice visit the BGT classroom to lead interactive presentations, and students also take field trips to engage with the people and problems most relevant to their community. Meanwhile, students collaborate with each other to write imaginative plays inspired by these interactions.
In the second half of the program while students are working hard to write final drafts, our BGT composer and designers visit the classroom to lead workshops on songwriting and design, offering students an opportunity to add live music to their scripts and imagine the visual world of their plays. Students also visit the theater to learn more about the production process, and to hear their final drafts read out loud by our adult cast of actors.
The program culminates in free, professional performances of student-written plays for audiences of fellow students, faculty, families, and the community, where the playwrights take a bow. After the performances, playwrights gather once more for a Reflection Party, to share their experience of the BGT process and to celebrate their great achievement.
Big Green Theater was initially conceived by Bushwick Starr founders Noel Allain and Sue Kessler and developed from year one in partnership with Jeremy Pickard and eco-theater collective Superhero Clubhouse. The program was created, in alignment with the shared values of the two companies, to introduce eco-theater and playwriting to young artists and audiences, and to fill a gap in arts education and engagement for youth in Bushwick, particularly amid budget cuts that eliminated in-school arts programming in many of our local public schools.
The first year of the program took place at Still Waters in a Storm, a community nonprofit that supports reading and writing for Bushwick youth. Starting in 2011, BGT moved into neighborhood public school PS123 as an after-school program for 5th graders. BGT expanded in 2013 to reach 2 public schools each spring, and once again in 2018 to serve 2 more classrooms during the fall semester. Now, Big Green Theater curriculum is shared with 60 students annually, and reaches audiences of 600 in our community with free family-friendly performances of the students’ work. Over the years, this curriculum has been honed to directly reflect students’ lived experience and their personal stakes in working towards environmental justice, including issues like racism, urban ecology, and climate disasters. Environmental professionals including Kate Marvel (NASA), Monica Molina (Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory), and Max Soo (NYC Park Rangers) have visited the classroom each year to provide age-appropriate scientific context, and students have taken field trips to sites including the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant, the Billion Oyster Project, and the Salt Marsh Nature Center to gain first-hand exposure to the environmental issues they learn about in class.
Big Green Theater teaches students how to create their own original short plays about climate justice, and then presents them to their families and peers in a professional production using green technology and repurposed materials. The scope of the student playwrights’ imaginations has always been expansive, with plays featuring fantastical characters like mutant butterflies, thawed cavemen, and alien bees. Over the years, we have grown our ability to bring those imaginations to life. Starting in 2014, composers Michelle J. Rodriguez, Wesley Zurick, Julia May Jonas, and Nate Weida worked with students to write original live music to accompany their plays. We also refined our ecological production practices, integrating LED lighting systems, creating an electric grid powered by solar panels, and re-purposing sets from major theaters throughout NYC to fully realize students’ creative visions while reducing our environmental impact. Director Jeremy Pickard and his creative teams also developed a theatrical vocabulary through the years that brings a unified aesthetic to the various worlds that our young playwrights conceive, and craft playful, physical performances that appeal to audiences of all ages.
In 2021, Superhero Clubhouse began partnering with new theaters and schools in different neighborhoods, while The Bushwick Starr will continue to run the program independently in North Brooklyn.
We are proud of the hundreds of students and adult artists that have contributed to this program in its first decade.
2020: BGT: The Movies! (plays by students from P.S.75 & P.S.196)
2019: Salt Marsh Party (plays by students from P.S. 239 & P.S. 75)
2018: After the Flood (plays by students from P.S. 75 & I.S. 77)
2017: Street Scene (plays by students from P.S. 239 & P.S. 75)
2016: Summit of Species (plays by students from P.S. 75 & P.S. 305)
2015: The Island (plays by students from P.S. 123 & P.S. 75)
2014: The Balien Museum of Second Earth (plays by students from P.S. 123)
2013: Hurricane (plays by students from P.S. 123)
2012: Clean Up the Park (plays by students from P.S. 123)
2011: Of Oysters, Worms and Cormorants (plays by students from Still Waters in a Storm)
PAST PRODUCTION PERSONNEL
Noel Joseph Allain, John del Gaudio, Sue Kessler, Lucy Jackson, producers
Jeremy Pickard, program & production director
Dominique Rider, fall BGT production director & spring BGT assistant director
Julia May Jonas, Nate Weida, Wesley Zurick, Michelle J. Rodriguez, composers
Yijun Yang, Chen You-Shin, Michael Minahan, scenic design
Preesa Adeline Bullington, Sabrina Bianca Guillaume, costume design
Lexy Ho-Tai, Cheyanne Williams, prop design
Jay Maury, lighting design and technical direction
Hannah Birch Carl, Almeda Beynon, Eben Hoffer, Sarah Hughes, Jay Maury, sound designers
Emma Johnson, Joey Barone, Ann Marie Dorr, Chip Rogers, Poe Saegusa, Lico Whitfield, production managers
Caren Celine Morris, Nic Adams, Rachel April, Carly Erickson, Sarah Hughes, Rosie Kolbo, Keith Medelis, Harry Poster, Hanako Rodriguez, stage managers
Katie Kennedy, Bryan Russell, Lanxing Fu, Cassiope Sydoriak, Priscilla Villanueva, assistant stage managers
Maria Portman Kelly, associate producer (2015-16), assistant production & stage manager (2014), production manager (2013), stage manager (2012)
Production assistants: Sheldon Bennett, Carolyn Chadwick, Sarah Cho, Anna Crouch, Bellene Fisher, Naya Gomez, Isobel Hutton, Mei Mei Pollitt, David Schacht, Julia Schonberg, Charles Quittner, & James Zeebooker
Nanda Abella, Rolls Andre, Valeria A. Avina, Maki Borden, Torian Brackett, Ines Dominguez del Corral, Aja Downing, Allisha Edwards, Mia Ellis, Ava Eisenson, Jon Erdman, Danny Gardner, Katherine George, Sam Gonzalez, Maya Hernandez, Eben Hoffer, Chris Ignacio, Tiffany Iris, Tia James*, Corey Johnson, Christian Jimenez*, Flako Jimenez, Layla Khoshnoudi, Alejandro La Rosa, Dan Lawrence*, Susan Ly, Melissa Mahoney, Jonathan Martin*, Penny Middleton, Serena Ebony Miller*, Esau Mora, Beethoven Oden, Katey Parker, Kat Peña, Vanessa Pereda-Felix, Rad Pereira, Flor De Liz Perez, Mauricio Pita, Michelle J. Rodriguez, Vicki Rodriguez, Wes Ruiz, Imani Russell, Haley Sakamoto, Monica Santana, Isabella Sazak, Tina Thurman, Allan Washington*, Sam West, Paul Wyatt, Anne Zager, Wesley Zurick*
*Appeared courtesy of Actors’ Equity Association
PAST LEAD TEACHING ARTISTS
Jeremy Pickard (2010-2020)
Lanxing Fu (2017-2020)
Vanessa Pereda-Felix (2016-2020)
Dominique Brillion (Spring 2020)
Dylan Guerra (Spring 2020)
Nissy Aya (Spring 2017 & 2019)
Amina Henry (Spring 2018)
PAST ASSISTANT TEACHING ARTISTS
Allisha Edwards (Spring 2020)
Ras Badejo (Spring 2020)
Christian Alvarado (Fall 2019)
Dominique Rider (Fall 2019)
Penny Middleton (Spring 2019, Fall 2018)
Serena Ebony Miller (Spring 2019, Fall 2018)
Kat Peña (Spring 2018)
Chris Ignacio (Spring 2018)
Isabella Sazak (Spring 2016)
Mauricio Pita (Spring 2016)
Maria Portman Kelly (Spring 2011)
Monica Palmieri (Spring 2017)
Modesto Flako Jimenez (Spring 2015-17)
Claire Moodey (Spring 2015)
Katherine Alfredo & Tess Russo (The Water Center at Columbia University)
Chloe Bass & Lee Mandell (Boswyck Farms)
Dave Chameides (“Sustainable Dave”)
Nicole Davi, Monica Molina, Dorothy Peteet (Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory)
David Frank (NYU Environmental Studies)
Joan Henry (Earthsinger)
Ellie Irons (Next Epoch Seed Library)
Jennifer Jacquet (NYU Environmental Studies)
Zara L’Heureux (Lenfest Center for Sustainable Energy, Columbia University)
Kate Marvel (NASA GISS)
Jame McCray (Ecologist & sea turtle expert)
Yazmin Morales Vincente & Leslie Velasquez (El Puente)
Lauren Norman (NY Harbor School)
Ana Orozco (UPROSE)
Nada Petrovic, Courtney St. John & Katherine Fox Thompson (Center for Research on Environmental Decisions, Columbia University)
Sarah Pidgeon (Solar One)
Shawn Shafner (POOP Project)
Tanasia Swift (Billion Oyster Project)
Dan Tainow (Lower East Side Ecology Center)
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
Billion Oyster Project
American Museum of Natural History
Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Facility
Salt Marsh Nature Center
Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden