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Staging Change

Theater production highlights climate-related topics

Many theatrical performances are known for their lavish sets and costumes that often end up in the trash when a show closes. But Bridgewater State University thespians are taking an environmentally friendly approach.

For Lighting the Way, an upcoming series of short plays about climate change, students are using limited sets and costumes – and making them from existing materials. Even the paint is left over from past productions while props are made of waste cardboard. And the program is just one page with a digital supplement.

“We’re in an artistic practice that has historically not been kind to the Earth,” said Kyle Imbeau, ’23, a theatre arts major and women and gender studies minor from Fairhaven. “This is an important thing for us to be reflecting on as artists.”

From Nov. 17 to 20, Kyle and their classmates in Associate Professor Miranda Giurleo’s Laboratory Theatre class will present Lighting the Way in the Rondileau Student Union Auditorium. The students selected 16 plays from an anthology of 49 pieces commissioned for the global theater festival Climate Change Theatre Action 2019. The plays highlight people who are striving for a more sustainable future.

“We had a lot of conversations in class about how we do this in a way that leaves the audience with hope,” Giurleo said. “How do we do this in a way that doesn’t seem to be just for optics?”

The minimalist set challenges students to think differently, but also presents an opportunity to connect with audience members who will be more focused on the actors, said Kaylin DiAntonio, ’24, a theater arts and psychology major from Carver.

“Everything that we do is done with intent,” Kaylin said. “Everything we do has such profound purpose that you can’t help but be drawn in.”

Some plays feature spoken word poetry, a style that connects ZZ McRae’s academic studies in theater and creative writing.

“This course has been able to really mesh both of my passions together, and I’m so happy,” said ZZ, a member of the Class of 2023 from Brockton.

Laboratory Theatre gives students a hands-on experience on stage and behind the scenes similar to the work of a professional theater company. 

Lighting the Way marks the seventh show at BSU for which Kyle is the dramaturg, a position responsible for conducting research and providing context about the play for actors and the audience. Kyle appreciates having these experiences as an undergraduate because they aims to become a professional dramaturg.

Kyle took on the dramaturg responsibilities to fulfill an Honors Program requirement. Fellow honors student Madison Bradbury, ’23, composed several songs for the production.

“I’ve always enjoyed writing music,” said Madison, a theater arts major from East Bridgewater. “I’ve never had proper mentorship and space to do it. Here, I was given all the mentorship.”

Madison hopes the audience leaves inspired to make a difference in improving the environment.

“Even the smallest thing can help,” Madison said. “I hope this starts a chain reaction.”

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