The students' play portrays how pollution, deforestation, storms and heat waves threaten our survival, and how we can find solutions together
Photo credit: Bushwick Starr/ FB

Bushwick students, in collaboration with the Bushwick Starr Theater and the Superhero Clubhouse Collective, have created a series of short plays inspired by environmental justice that will debut at the 9th Annual Big Green Theater Festival in April. 

The Big Green Theater is an eco-playwriting program for public elementary students in which kids write plays about local ecology, climate change and environmental justice, then see their work produced professionally for audiences of their peers and families. 

For three months during after-school hours, 4th and 5th graders at schools in Bushwick and Ridgewood work with guests artists and environmental professionals to craft short imaginative, musical “eco-plays” that tackle some of the world’s most pressing environmental issues. Then, in April, their plays are fully staged and presented at The Bushwick Starr by an ensemble of professional actors, directors and designers using only green theater methods.

Students work with guests artists and environmental professionals to craft imaginative “eco-plays.” Photo credit: Bushwick Starr

“We ask these professionals to challenge themselves to work within the Green Theater movement by using recycled materials for sets, LED lighting and more, “the theater explains on its website. “This process educates our artists about how to make work while thinking green. In turn, the students observe the use of eco-friendly approaches to making theater and continue to think creatively about re-directing activities in an environmentally friendly way.”

This year, the students have created a menagerie of characters who live in a community surrounding an urban salt marsh. Throughout the plays, this community of humans and non-humans face pollution, deforestation, giant storms, poaching and heat waves that threaten the survival of the marsh’s eco-system, ultimately finding solace and solutions in each other.

“We believe that the neighborhood of Bushwick needs to improve environmental awareness, and we would like to play a part in motivating our community to be active in a global cause that we feel very strongly about,” the theater states. “By making BGT an interactive process, we know that it will have an effect on the artists involved as well as the student playwrights, their families and those who see the performance.”

The Bushwick Starr began in 2001 as a developmental space for the New York-based theater company Fovea Floods, Inc. In 2004, the company helped to fully convert the space to a black-box venue while producing a large-scale theatrical run. Since then, the Obie Award-winning not-for-profit theater has become a springboard for emerging professional artists, a sanctuary for established artists to experiment and innovate, and a neighborhood playhouse serving Brooklyn’s diverse artistic needs and impulses.

The Big Green Theater Festival will return from April 26 – 28, to the Bushwick Starr, located at 207 Starr Street. All performances are free an open to the public. Go here for more information.

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Andrea Leonhardt

“Made in Germany,” Andrea Leonhardt is the managing editor for BK Reader. Andrea holds a bachelor’s degree in political science, with minors in American studies and education, and a master’s...

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