Our annual Big Green Theater program is back for its 7th year, and we are thrilled to start reporting on our classroom sessions, which have been underway since January at two Bushwick public schools.

Here’s a recap from our program director, Jeremy Pickard, about what the BGT students have been working on:

“Life’s hard for a phytoplankton”
This year, we’re focusing our plays on the topic of climate change; more specifically, climate justice and the interconnectedness between local and global.
We began our first week by taking a “nature walk” around the school, imagining what the neighborhood would have looked like in 1609 (just before the Europeans arrived), observing the natural elements that are still amongst us in 2017, and noticing the human-made elements that might be a threat to the natural environment.
In our second week, we were visited by marine microbiologist Monica Rouco, who led a series of games and activities that helped us understand the wonderful world of phytoplankton. Did you know that half the oxygen we breathe comes from phytoplankton?! We also learned how increased CO2 is making the ocean more acidic, which can break down the shells of phytoplankton, endangering their population.
In our third week we went on a field trip to the NY Aquarium to get up close and personal with local coastal species like harbor seals and horseshoe crabs. We collected shells on the beach with expert Alex Garretson, organizing them into univalves and bivalves, and then “traveled” to a coral reef in Belize where the calcium from far away shells (like the ones we collected) would become necessary nutrients for phytoplankton and coral. Then we explored the pinniped family, especially one member: the walrus. Expert Megan Janke led a game in which students played walrus mothers and babies, struggling to find food and safety as the arctic ice flows melted– a real result of global warming. And we got to pet a live horseshoe crab!
All the while, we’re writing plays; epic, funny, imaginative plays about friendships and families, big dreams and hard obstacles. Each play’s conflict is inspired by the problems we’re learning about from our environmental experts, but otherwise the stories are wildly original. We can’t wait to see what the next several weeks will bring!

SAVE THE DATE: The Big Green Theater performance festival will run April 28-30, 2017


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