EARTH (a play about people)

Illustration by Kristy Caldwell

Illustration by Kristy Caldwell

September 20, 2014
work-in-progress performance

Building 110 on Governor's Island
The culmination of a Process Space residency from the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council 

Team NYC

Co-directed by Jeremy Pickard, Harry Poster & Hannah Wolf
Made and performed by Nanda Abella, Sergio Botero, Jonathan Camuzeaux, William Cook, Janouke Goosen, Eben Hoffer, Yanghee Lee, Andrew Lindqvist, Bella MacDiarmid, Jeremy Pickard, Sophia Remolde, Leah Shelton & Sonia Villani 
Written by Satellite Artists in collaboration with the NYC company 
Dramaturgy by Megan McClain & Anne Zager
Original music by Jonathan Camuzeaux 
Musical Arrangement by Janouke Goosen
Featured choreography by KatieRose McLaughlin
Lighting design by Bruce Steinberg
Sound design by Sarah Hughes
Design dramaturgy Solomon Weisbard
Lighting assistance by Alex McConnell-Trivelli
Production assistance by John Le

Satellite Teams 

Per Bech Jensen (Idom Kirkeby, Denmark)
Tommy Dickie, Corey Johnson & collaborators (Los Angeles, USA) 
Tina Yotopoulou (Athens, Greece)
Christina Pickard (Perth, Australia)
Brian O'Neal & collaborators (Minneapolis, USA) 
Nadia Serantes (Santiago, Chile)
Toma Danila, Ioana Manciu & Horia Suru (Bucharest, Romania) 
Byron Yee & Lyrica Yin (Guangzhou, China)

Photos from our September 20 work-in-progress performance on Governor's Island. Photos by Jill Steinberg.

Past NYC Collaborators

Nanda Abella, Courtney Bassett, Jonathan Camuzeaux, William Cook, Danny Gardner, Charles Gushue, Sarah Hughes, Maria Portman Kelly, Aba Kiser, Dan Kublick, Annalisa Ledson, Megan McClain, Kelsey McMahon, Katey Parker, Alice Pencavel, Eva Peskin, Nada Petrovic, Jeremy Pickard, Marie-Marguerite Sabongui, Eva von Schweinitz, Shawn Shafner, Bruce Steinberg, Tina Yotopoulou, Anne Zager

Past Satellite Teams

Naja Bjørnsson (Copenhagen)
Tommy Dickie & collaborators (Los Angeles) 
Sophia Remolde (Tokyo)
Brian O'Neal & collaborators (Minneapolis)
Leah Shelton (Brisbane, Australia) 
Hannah Wolfe & collaborators (Bucharest) 
Byron Yee & Lyrica Yin (Guangzhou, China) 

 

Description

A couple faced with the possibility of having a child embark on separate journeys through time and space.  A multidisciplinary theatrical event exploring the personal, social and environmental questions surrounding contemporary issues of overpopulation. Created collaboratively and remotely by international teams of artists and scientists based on limitations inspired by the Voyager Golden Record

History

Originally conceived by Sarah Hughes, Jeremy Pickard and Anne Zager

December 2012: early workshops in NYC
June 2, 2014: work-in-progress showing in NYC
September 20, 2014: work-in-progress showing on Governor's Island, NYC (as part of a Lower Manhattan Cultural Council "Process Space" grant)
2015: first-draft production, NYC

Process

EARTH is a cross-disciplinary, cross-cultural and international collaboration. Based on prompts and limitations given by Superhero Clubhouse, teams of artists working remotely (that is, in cities outside NYC) created highly personal scenes, images and dances inspired by themes and questions related to population. The material given to us by Satellite Teams was then developed in dialogue with our artists here in NYC. At this stage of development, we are asking three questions: 1. What is the play, and how does it confront the ecological research? 2. How do we collaborate with artists from afar? 3. How can EARTH be a singular event with consistency of vision, aesthetic and narrative, despite so many “cooks in the kitchen”? By asking these questions, we are also exploring what it means to get along in the world, in the face of global limitations, environmental crises and a population not yet at its peak.

A play about PEOPLE

For thousands of years of human history, having a child was crucial to the survival of tribes, families, farms, races... humanity itself.  As technology and medicine advanced, the stakes dropped; for many of us, need has been replaced with choice. Now, as the global population climbs toward 10 billion, life expectancy increases, resources become precious, and the consequences of climate change barrel down on us, how we personally and globally consider the effects of our species' multiplication has never been more crucial.  Is there a limit to humanity?  Are we responsible for each other?  How do we balance the beauty and brilliance of our species with the impact our very presence has on the world we rely on? 

Biggest Green Successes

A mix of specialty LED bulbs, compact fluorescents and natural lighting. The majority of our set and props were borrowed. We printed zero scripts, and Governor's Island has excellent accessibility to recycling and compost bins, so waste during our rehearsal period was minimal. 

Biggest Green Challenges

A few food props (all of which were consumed, but none of which were grown or shipped sustainably), and a little paint on the wall. We had to drive a car to the island for load-in and strike. 

Above: photos from our June 2014 work-in-progress presentation. Photos by Marina McClure. 
Below: an original song for our first EARTH showing, composed by Courtney Bassett. 


Our September stage of development for EARTH (a play about people) was made possible in part by a 2014 LMCC Process Space artist residency. Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (LMCC) empowers artists by providing them with networks, resources, and support, to create vibrant, sustainable communities in Lower Manhattan and beyond.

A note from dramaturg Megan McClain

Last year, the Voyager 1 spacecraft entered interstellar space, becoming the farthest human-made object from Earth. On board is the Voyager Golden Record, a disk containing images, music, greetings in 55 languages, and sounds meant to capture the diversity of life on our planet. Created in 1977 by Carl Sagan and a team of collaborators, this time capsule was launched in the hopes that it might be found by intelligent life. Though ambitious, the Voyager Golden Record project was plagued by limitations. How could they hope to represent all of Earth on one record? In creating EARTH (a play about people), we faced a similar challenge. How can we tell a story about human life on this planet of 7.2 billion people? Taking the contents and limitations of the Voyager Golden Record as our inspiration, we have created our own imperfect performance time capsule filled with observations, stories, and experiences devised by a team of 20 local artists and scientists and dozens of artists from other countries including Romania, Australia, China, Japan, Greece, and Denmark. Our play begins with a couple waiting to find out if they are pregnant.  In this temporal limbo, they each embark on separate journeys through time and space. In a world fraught with limited resources and an alarmingly booming human population, what are the environmental, social, and personal implications surrounding the decision to have a child? How do we balance the beauty and brilliance of our species with the impact our very presence has on the world we rely on?


SUPERHEROES DON'T MARCH; WE DANCE. 
The day after our EARTH performance, we joined over 400,000 people in the People's Climate March, the largest public action surrounding climate change in history. It was important, exhausting, and so much fun.