Written by Moms Clean Air Force
This was written by Moms Clean Air Force volunteer, Faith Ember. Faith studies politics and theater at Bennington College.
Moms Clean Air Force shares my passion for a healthy, just climate for children. Many children use art to express ways to help protect the natural environment from climate change. The magic of school plays or local community theater to communicate climate stories is a perfect way for children to share their passion.
I got involved with theater in the third grade, and as a college student I’m currently pursuing a degree in Drama. I love theater because it is a space to learn and explore issues that are meaningful to me, including climate change. In fact, there’s a word for the intersection of theater and climate change: eco-theater. Eco-theater uses plays to teach audiences about environmental issues. Plays that use recycled materials for costumes, props and the set, also define eco-theater.
Children’s eco-theater can teach lessons from making good choices to learning about climate change. Unfortunately, climate change can be an overwhelming and an anxiety-provoking issue. It can be hard to talk about it with anyone, especially kids. But theater and the arts are great vehicles for approaching the topic. Across the ages, eco-theater can be a space for cultivating empathy and provoking the audience to think.
Theater can also make difficult issues, like climate change, more palatable, as it can break down the science for kids.
Here are a great examples of children’s eco-theater: “Shine” by The Blank. This play is created by students using “climate science and artistic expression” to create a fun, uplifting musical. The play cultivates engagement with elementary-aged students that utilizes informational activities to supplement the show’s involvement. The creators also include a series of worksheets and classroom activities that teach about climate change.
Another great example of a children’s play for elementary-aged kids based on climate change is “Curious: Think Outside the Pipeline!“. This play is about two siblings who involve their neighbors to help fight for clean air. Created by the group Ants on a Log, the play can be performed in the classroom or viewed by anyone, as it is also a multi-media film. The play’s official website states, “the film is ideal for parents and teachers who want to engage with children about being active members of a community and realizing their own agency.”
Additionally, the play “Beyond the Edge – a Play About Climate Change and the Climate Emergency” is a show for teenagers that addresses extreme weather. In this play, the characters talk about climate change as they are in immediate danger due to rising water.
It is essential that those that will be the most impacted – our children’s generation – have tools like artistic expression, to learn about climate issues and to manage fears and anxieties. The children can also encourage their parents to let their elected officials know that they must continue to act on climate. And eco-theater is a great entry point for getting kids to get involved in thinking about climate change and their future.