Welcome to the Great Immensity blog! This site will serve as a hub of dramaturgy for students of ATL/ENV/THR 496
as well as a collection of musings, anecdotes, and general goings-on concerning the production. It is prudent to make known that documenting not-exactly-documentary theater is a strange business, and that this blog may therefore wax strange from time to time. It may not report the truth intact and whole. This is art, not science.
On that note, allow me to introduce myself: I am The Future – or, rather, Erin Sherman ’11, majoring in psychology with an eye to environmental studies, the production’s mini-dramaturge specializing on the way people think about – and, through action, create – the future. I will be one of your hosts for this thrilling blogventure (TTB).
The Great Immensity Atelier is inhabited by Steve “Versus Hope” and Michael “The Magnificent” in addition to eight Princeton students, four of whom serve as environmental experts and mini-dramaturges, while the remaining four – including your second host for TTB, Jackie Hedeman – are directly involved in the production. You will hear many more interesting nicknames in good time, I suspect.
We began with the Great Immensity itself – with climate change, the Pacific Ocean plastic gyre, shifting baselines, failed discounting methods, and every other element that, while perhaps conceivable in its own right, connects with its cohorts to form an entangled mass whose ins and outs no one can hope to grasp entirely. Then we tried to make flow charts of it. They weren’t bad, but they could have used a zoom feature and an additional dimension or two. With the assistance of good coffee, plenty of “oh my gosh, really?” and a pinch of hope, we have plowed through the basic human and ecological elements of the Great Immensity to arrive, some of us rolled into cognitive and emotional fetal positions, at an overwhelming question: is there hope?
Steve “Versus Hope” has been asking this for years: he has asked natural scientists and climate psychologists, social entrepreneurs and public servants. For his students, however, the question is, if not new, newly pressing. We have plied our peers with this question and variants thereof in interviews, listening and nodding and prodding. Is there hope? No, sometimes – and sometimes, “hope seems to be winning, and that’s not necessarily a good thing.” After all, what is hope without action?
In the course of interviewing, we practiced the skills of the investigative playwright: trust in intuition, patience, and (above all) listening – listening closely enough so that, on Monday afternoons, we could set aside our notes and become the people whom we interviewed, introduce our other selves to the class, and speak their words anew. We learned what makes a drama and what does not make a drama; we learned not to write scenes involving choirs singing about the tragedy of the cod; we learned that endings matter; we may or may not have killed a cat. That may or may not be important.
Now that even the less enthusiastically treehugging of us are appropriately horrified with the state of the world, and the less theatrically inclined of us (e.g., me) have the beginnings of a grip on drama’s key elements, we are preparing for the plunge from orientation and preparation into the production itself. Rehearsals begin soon – check back for updates! I hope I have your attention.