Unnatural Spaces opens in just two days! Whoa! I am so excited. Working on this show has been an incredible blessing – it has brought me into contact with new people and new ideas, and dramatically (I mean, dramatically!) transformed my environmental politics. Before I started working on Unnatural Spaces, I thought “environmentalism” was about recycling, about maybe riding my bike to work. Now, when I think about “the environment,” I think about the relationship between toxic metal syndrome and violence in Chicago. I think about the relationship between lead poisoning and school test scores. I think about the relationship between food additives, poverty, and lowered life expectancy. I think about the way that our culture produces not only disposable products, but disposable people – large chunks of the population who are consistently on the front lines of toxic waste.
But this awakening has not brought with it a sense of judgement towards others. From the beginning, the poets and performers working on the project have been adamant that we didn’t want this piece to be “preachy,” that we didn’t want to assume a position that we were experts, that we had answers. Instead, we wanted to ask questions and to complicate, to look at “the environment” from diverse points of view and from a place of human generosity. (In general, this is the guiding principle of my work, to approach from a perspective of “critical generosity” that acknowledges the messiness of human lives.)
We also wanted to be funny. I know, I know… a play about environmental justice created by collective of poets doesn’t scream “must-see comedy of the year!” And Unnatural Spaces definitely isn’t a comedy. But in trying to get to the “honest place” in our conversation about the environment, we’ve found a lot of humour. After all, people are weird, funny creatures, full of contradictions. And believe me, there is comedy gold in asking people to list all the reasons they do things like pee in public pools or wear their flip flops in the shower.
So, yeah… it is two days before opening and I feel so READY to share this piece with the world, to sit next to friends and strangers and find out what kinds of conversations the show opens up. Want to join me?
We run OCTOBER 5-OCTOBER 28.
Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays at 7pm at the Hairpin Arts Center (2800 N. Milwaukee Ave)
Tickets are $15 dollars general admission, $7 for students, and $5 for groups of ten or more (bargain!)
For more information, please visit guildcomplex.org