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civicensembleThis fall, Civic Ensemble and Cornell University's Department of Performing and Media Arts continue their partnership with a new version of PMA's Theatre and Social Change course. The course, originally developed and taught by Professor Sara Warner, has been reimagined, and with funding from Engaged Cornell, is now being co-taught by Professor Warner and Senior Lecturer, and Civic Ensemble Artistic Director, Godfrey L. Simmons, Jr. Additional collaborators are Civic Ensemble Artistic Director Sarah K. Chalmers and Cornell Earth and Atmospheric Sciences Assistant Professor Toby Ault. The course teaches students how to use theatre to initiate dialogue and change around a vital issue of our times. This semester, that issue is climate change here in Tompkins County and the greater Finger Lakes area.

In addition to classroom lectures and hands-on workshops on climate science and theatre techniques, students will participate in story circles and interviews off-campus with community members, students, scientists, government officials, farmers, and artists. Civic Ensemble is establishing connections with individuals and community, and government groups to set up story circles and interviews during the month of October. These stories and interviews will help create the course's culminating project, a play in the format of a Living Newspaper.

A story circle is an opportunity for participants to share stories of what they have personally experienced in their home, work, and elsewhere. Everyone has an equal amount of time to speak and the structure of the circle places a premium listening and attending to what each person shares. Civic Ensemble uses story circles to build community and develop new plays based on the stories told.

There are several story circles scheduled with specific groups and populations, and three story circles open to the public.

The public story circles:

Sunday, October 8, 12pm-2pm at Cayuga Nature Center;
Saturday, October 14, 2pm-4pm at The History Center in Tompkins County; and
Tuesday, October 17, 6:30pm-8:30pm at The History Center in Tompkins County.

The cast of this original play will consist of students and community members. Performances of Climates of Change will be held at Cornell University's Schwartz Center of Performing Arts Film Forum December 1st and 2nd at 7:30pm, in two off-campus locations in Tompkins County on December 2nd and 3rd at 2pm, and at the Cornell Sustainability Summit on the CU campus December 4th.

Civic Ensemble and Cornell PMA previously collaborated on mainstage productions of All God's Chillun' Got Wings and Baltimore, combining academics with community-based work. Engaged Cornell sponsors this semester-long project.

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