A cosmic debate | The river reporter

By LIAM MAYO

DAMASCUS, PA – The Farm Arts Collective inspired, educated and thrilled with their latest production, “Dream on the Farm”.

As noted in the production’s program notes, “Artistic Director Tannis Kowalchuk and the ensemble are committed to presenting a decade-long series of climate change plays that will take place between 2020 and 2030”.

This year’s “Dream on the Farm”, the second annual installment of this “Decalogue” of eco-dramas, had as its theme a debate between macrocosmic and microcosmic perspectives on the Earth and its inhabitants.

The performance featured astronomer Carl Sagan (played to perfection with wide-eyed eyes by Hudson Williams Eynon) opposite biologist Lynn Margulis (passionately played by Jess Beveridge, who also served as production manager for the performance) . Is it better to see the world at the microbial, microbiological level, as recommended by Margulis? Or was it better to look at the stars and consider the macrocosm, as Sagan suggested? And what would best help save the planet from the pervasive evils of climate change?

Each of the two led the audience through encounters with an animated cast of characters from the macro and micro worlds, accompanied by the arbiter figure of Alice-in-Wonderland, the upside down energy Tannis Kowalchuck, The White. Rabbit.

These encounters introduced the public to the beauty of the natural world while presenting the dangers and threats it faces. Encounters with the hydrosphere and the atmosphere, performed by actors dressed in colorful costumes and on high stilts, showed the power of the macrocosmic forces that surround the Earth, while also warning that humans would die if the damage caused by the climate change were not fixed. The microcosmic forces of corn and fungi showed the strength and power of a diverse ecosystem, while the Plague of the Butterfly (heartbreakingly played by Julia Kehrley) showed how, when ecosystems were damaged by development and l environmental collapse, migratory species could start to die.

The performance ended in a draw, after Sagan and Margulis dismissed the alien who had been brought in to judge the competition. Neither the macrocosmic perspective nor the microcosmic perspective was enough to save the planet on its own, they said. The two had to work together, hand in hand, for a change to happen.

“Dream on the Farm” was directed by Tannis Kowalchuk and Mimi McGurl. While all performances of this year’s “Dream on the Farm” are sold out, the Farm Arts Collective will present “Lady Capulet” by Melissa Bell on Saturday 25 and Sunday 26 September; to see the Collective’s full schedule, visit www.farmartscollective.org.

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