Theatre in the Age of Climate Change Convening

The Theatre in the Age of Climate Change convening took place 8-10 June 2018 and was hosted by HowlRound in partnership with Chantal Bilodeau (The Arctic Cycle), Elizabeth Doud (Climakaze Miami/Fundarte), and Roberta Levitow (Theatre Without Borders) in Boston, Massachusetts at Emerson College.

This event was one of four convenings selected as part of the HowlRound Challenge to advance the role of the arts as a catalyst for social change. The HowlRound Challenge and this convening was made possible thanks to the support of the Barr Foundation

Read the report out on the convening here and see other HowlRound content to date on this topic here

The organizers invited thirty leading thinkers, presenters, and practitioners who are working at the intersection of performing arts and climate change for a three-day caucus to engage in a dynamic conversation around our common challenges, opportunities, and future strategies.

The desire was to galvanize the growing energy around making theatre and live performance in the age of climate change, and to translate that energy into concrete, positive impacts. To have wisdom and inquiry in the room. To identify best practices and new ideas. Simultaneously, one of the core aims was to assemble/host a working group of key US and international individuals already active at the intersection of the arts and climate to lay out strategies for greater collaborations amongst group members, and to articulate concrete intentions to leverage resources towards supporting those efforts. The organizers embraced arts/non-arts collaborations, community based approaches, site specific performance and traditional theatre methods.

In creating the convening, we realized we were also creating an impact on our environment. As such we purchased convening food and materials from sustainable sources. Many of the meals were vegetarian or vegan, and we had recycling and compost bins in our meeting space. We also offset the estimated 14.912 Tonnes of CO2 Emissions caused by this gathering thanks to

Asterisked* events were livestreamed on HowlRound TV—see the video archive here. Download a PDF of this schedule here


12:00-12:30 pm       Registration

12:00-1:00 pm         Opening Reception and Lunch (provided)

1:00-1:15 pm            Welcome*

1:15-1:45 pm           Orientation: The Landscape and Our Meeting*

1:45-2:45 pm            Who Are We in the Landscape?*

2:45-2:55 pm           Break

2:55-3:45 pm            Inner Circle #1: What’s the Reality: What’s Working?*

3:45-4:15 pm            Full Group Discussion #1: What’s the Reality: What’s Working?*

4:15-4:25 pm            Break

4:25-5:15 pm            Inner Circle # 2: How Do We Double Our Impact?*

5:15pm-5:45 pm       Full Group Discussion #2: How Do We Double Our Impact?*

5:45-5:50 pm            Closing

5:50-7:00 pm            Break    

7:00-9:00 pm           Dinner at Clover DTX, 27 School St. Boston, MA 02108  (provided)


9:00-9:30 am            Light breakfast (provided)

9:30-9:45 am            Reflection

9:45-10:30 am           Inner Circle #3: Thinking Radically*

10:30-11:00am           Full Group Discussion #3: Thinking Radically*

11:00-11:10 am          Break

11:10-12:00 pm         Create Working Groups: Making the Theoretical Practical*

12:00-1:00 pm          Working Group Lunch (provided)

1:00-2:15 pm             Working Groups Part One: Develop the Idea

2:15-3:00 pm            Working Group Quick Report Backs*    

3:00-3:15 pm            Break     

3:15-4:20 pm            Working Groups Part Two: Diving Deeper—Can It Work?

4:20-5:20 pm           Working Group Deep Report Backs*

5:20-5:25 pm            Closing

5:25-6:00 pm            Happy Hour in Lobby

6:00-8:00 pm           Public Event: Open Mic with Tapas Reception (provided)  



9:00-9:30 am        Light Breakfast (provided)

9:30-9:40 am             Welcome

9:40-10:30 am            Working Groups Part Three: Strategizing Next Steps

10:30-11:15 am            Working Group Report Backs*

11:15-11:45 am           Intentions and Accountability*

11:45 am-12:00 pm     Closing*

What is Climate Change in One Sentence?
We asked participants to define climate change in one sentence. The word cloud below illustrates the results. 

We asked participants to share one book about climate change that everyone should read and one artist whose work everyone should know. Check out the reading list here and the artists to know here. HowlRound has also featured a lot of content on the intersection of perfomance and climate change. Explore it all here

For a full biography of each participant click here.

Chantal Bilodeau (The Arctic Cycle), Catherine Bottrill (Julie's Bicycle), Alison Carey (American Revolutions, Oregon Shakespeare Festival), Una Chaudhuri (New York University), Grisha Coleman (Arizona State University), Xavier Cortada (Florida International University), Rob Davies (Utah State University), Annalisa Dias (The Welders), Elizabeth Doud (Climakaze Miami), Robert Duffley (American Repertory Theater, Emerson College), Jayeesha Dutta (Another Gulf is Possible, Working Films), Alayna Eagle Shield (Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Member), Georgina Escobar (Playwright), Lydia Fort (Emory University), Lanxing Fu (Superhero Clubhouse), DeLesslin “Roo” George-Warren (Catawba Indian Nation), MJ Halberstadt (Emerson College), Marda Kirn (EcoArts Connections), Julia Levine (The Arctic Cycle), Roberta Levitow (Theatre Without Borders), Abhishek Majumdar (NYU Abu Dhabi), April Merleaux (Hampshire College), Teddy Rodger (The Laboratory for Global Performance and Politics at Georgetown University), Dr. Alyssa Schmidt (Boston Conservatory at Berklee College of Music), Jessica A. Schwartz (UCLA), Dr. Adilson Siqueira (Federal University of São João del-Rei), Cheryl Slean (VisionLA Climate Action Arts), Peterson Toscano (Citizens' Climate Radio), Meaza Worku (Playwright), Kyoko Yoshida (U.S./Japan Cultural Trade Network (CTN)).