Big Green Theater

April 28-20, 2017 at The Bushwick Starr

Photos by Sue Kessler

Production History

2016: Summit of Species (plays by students from P.S. 075 & P.S. 305) 
2015: The Island (plays by students from P.S. 123 & P.S. 075)
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)

Production Team

Jeremy Pickard, director
Noel Joseph Allain, producer
Sue Kessler, producer
Julia May Jonas, Nate Weida, Wesley Zurick, composers
Michael Minahan & Preesa Adeline Bullington,  set/prop/costume design
Jay Maury, lighting design
Almeda Beynon, Eben Hoffer, Sarah Hughes, Jay Maury, sound designers
Chip Rogers, Poe Saegusa, Lico Whitfield, production managers
Nic Adams, Carly Erickson, Sarah Hughes, Harry Poster, Hanako Rodriguez, stage managers
Lanxing Fu, Cassiope Sydoriak, assistant stage managers
John Budge, documentation
Maria Portman Kelly, associate producer (2015-16), assistant production & stage manager (2014), production manager (2013), stage manager (2012)
Production assistants: Anna Crouch, Isobel Hutton, David Schacht, Julia Schonberg, Charles Quittner, & James Zeebooker

Past Performers 

Nanda Abella, Ava Eisenson, Jon Erdman, Danny Gardner, Eben Hoffer, Tia James*, Corey Johnson, Flako Jimenez, Layla Khoshnoudi, Dan Lawrence*, Jonathan Martin*, Katey Parker, Vanessa Pereda-Felix, Flor De Liz Perez, Mauricio Pita, Vicki Rodriguez, Monica Santana, Isabella Sazak, Tina Thurman, Allan Washington*, Sam West, Anne Zager

*Appeared courtesy of Actors' Equity Association

Classroom team

Jeremy Pickard, lead teaching artist
Noel Joseph Allain, assistant teaching artist (2011-15)
Flako Modesto Jimenez, assistant teaching artist (2015)
Claire Moodey, assistant teaching artist (2015)
Maria Portman Kelly, co-teaching artist (2011)
Tara Comastri, PS123 teacher-in-residence (2013-15)
Lisamichele Ramirez, PS75 teacher-in-residence (2015)
Daniel Ramos, PS123 assistant teacher-in-residence (2014-15)
John Budge, documentation
The Bushwick Starr, producer

Past Eco-Experts

Katherine Alfredo & Tess Russo (The Water Center at Columbia University)
Chloe Bass & Lee Mandell (Boswyck Farms)
Dave Chameides ("Sustainable Dave")
Nicole Davi & Dorothy Peteet (Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory)
David Frank (NYU Environmental Studies)
Jennifer Jacquet (NYU Environmental Studies)
Zara L'Heureux (Lenfest Center for Sustainable Energy, Columbia University)
Kate Marvel (NASA GISS)
Lauren Norman (NY Harbor School)
Nada Petrovic, Courtney St. John & Katherine Fox Thompson (Center for Research on Environmental Decisions, Columbia University)
Sarah Pidgeon (Solar One)
Shawn Shafner (POOP Project)
Dan Tainow (Lower East Side Ecology Center) 

Big Green Theater (BGT) is a program developed by The Bushwick Starr and Superhero Clubhouse that combines environmental education with an annual green theater festival. Fifth-grade students from Bushwick schools explore environmental topics with guest experts, and then are guided in writing original eco-plays. Finished plays are fully realized and professionally produced at The Bushwick Starr Theater during Earth Week, featuring sustainable and efficient design.  

The Program

1. Fifth-grade students are introduced to "eco-experts", who give interactive presentations of their research and expertise. 
2. Superhero Clubhouse captain Jeremy Pickard leads students in remembering and responding to the presentations, focusing on images, words or ideas that "popped". Together, the group hones in on one impossible environmental question for each presentation. These impossible questions will become the driving force of the eco-playwriting. 
3. With the one-on-one guidance of adult volunteers from the Bushwick Starr and Superhero Clubhouse communities, students write rough drafts of plays inspired by the eco-experts' presentations. There is little censorship, but the conflict of the plays must be rooted in the "impossible environmental question". 

1. From the five rough drafts that they have written, students select one play to develop and see performed. Students learn about the rewriting process, honing their writing skills (and their patience). 
2. Members of the Big Green Theater design team come into the classroom (or, in some cases, students visit The Bushwick Starr) to offer green design workshops, so that students can begin thinking of how to include the tenets of green design in their playwriting.  
3. Final drafts of student plays are read out loud at The Bushwick Starr by the actors who will perform the plays in April.

1. An intensive four-week rehearsal process begins at The Bushwick Starr with a team of professional artists, and the theater is transformed utilizing ecological design practices. 
2. At the end of Earth Week, the plays are performed for school and public audiences, to wild acclaim. 
3. Students return to The Bushwick Starr for a reflection party, where they get a chance to respond to the process and the performances. 

When possible and weather permiting, we bring the BGT students on field trips. In 2014, we took a field trip to the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, where students spent the day meeting climate scientists, touring labs, and going for a hike down to the Hudson River. We also took a trip to Governor's Island to visit the NY Harbor School where the Billion Oyster Project works with high school students to restore the NY harbor with oyster beds. 

Photos of our 2014 field trips to the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and NY Harbor School. Featured: senior paleobotanist Dorothy Peteet and oyster expert Sam Janis.