In “Environmental Theater: Political Theater and Theatrical Politics,” we explored the use of theatrical elements in real-world situations and the focus that theater has always had on political subjects. Discussions ranged from the national elections that year to Brecht, Broadway, The Bread and Puppet Theater, and propaganda throughout history.
The class culminated in an environmental treatment of Ibsen’s “An Enemy of the People.” The “performance” took place over several weeks. While the students were adapting and rehearsing one act of Ibsen’s play, they published a weekly “newspaper” complete with editorials, letters to the editor, and graphic advertising that presented the exposition and actually embodied the plot elements of the play. At the live performance, which took the form of the town meeting at the heart of Ibsen’s Act III, students further presented the ecological theme of the play through scientific poster displays, improvisational interplay with audience members, and even hawked homemade cookies as they “sold” their ideas and opinions, attempting to influence the actual vote that the audience would take at the evening’s end.