ISU Theatre presents “Climate Change Theatre Action 2021”

CATEGORIES: News, Students

Green background with words Climate Change Theatre Action

Everyone in the Ames community can contribute to addressing climate change—and now they can do it locally through the city’s Ames Climate Action Plan. ISU Theatre’s “Climate Change Theatre Action 2021” hopes to inspire the community to get involved in local climate action when the touring production opens Thursday, Sept. 23, at 5:15 p.m., outside ISU Parks Library.

It’s the third time Iowa State will participate in the international Climate Change Theatre Action (CCTA) initiative, a biennial, worldwide series of short plays and performances that coincides with the United Nations Climate Change Conference. However, it’s the first time it overlaps with the development of the Ames Climate Action Plan.

Vivian M. Cook, graduate student in community development and sustainable agriculture, helped bring CCTA to Iowa State in 2017 as a performing arts undergraduate. She then directed “Climate Change Theatre Action: Lighting the Waywith ISU Theatre in 2019, and this year, she is serving as the community engagement director for its third rendition.

“Our goal with this year’s CCTA project is to contribute artistic resources to the climate action planning process that’s happening right here,” Cook said. “It’s very exciting we have the opportunity, through art and storytelling, to encourage community engagement in such an important city process.”

Acting locally, connecting globally

Charissa Menefee, professor of English and theatre and the production’s director this year, cast an ensemble of Iowa State students and alumni. During early rehearsals, the team reflected on skills, stories and experiences they can contribute to CCTA and how to engage the community in contributing those same types of resources to local climate action planning.

Unlike traditional theatre processes where performers often audition for specific roles or plays, the CCTA ensemble helped choose the final plays for the show, which features global and local voices, including writers from Iowa State’s MFA Program in Creative Writing and Environment.

Touring Ames, advancing climate theatre nationally

Thanks to local partnerships, seeing CCTA will be as easy as going to a fall farmers’ market or festival. Eight free, outdoor performances are scheduled in public locations. Cook and Menefee hope that seeing theatre in unexpected venues will draw more attention toward planning a hopeful and sustainable future in Ames.

“We want to help get as many people participating as possible, get as many voices heard as possible and make sure people understand they have an opportunity to contribute and be part of shaping what the future will be like here,” Menefee said.

Menefee and Cook also are sharing the lessons learned from Iowa State’s CCTA productions with other artists around the country through published research, conferences, online forums and a new Slack collaboration space for universities and colleges engaged in Climate Change Theatre Action projects.

“Every time we’ve approached it a little differently,” Menefee said. “The plays are always new, and that’s exciting, but we are also always experimenting with our process and figuring out how we can learn more and contribute to the knowledge of other folks engaged in this same work.”

Performance details, climate action resource fairs

Full ensemble performances are Thursday, Sept. 23, 5:15 p.m., south library lawn of ISU Parks Library (rain location at Parks Library overhang) and Sunday, Oct. 3, 3:00 p.m., outdoors at the Ames Public Library (rain location at Ames Public Library auditorium.) Local partners will be on hand for climate action resource fairs at both events.

ISU Theatre’s “Climate Change Theatre Action 2021” will also perform, showcase local artwork, facilitate community engagement activities and share local climate action resources at the following community events:

  • Sept. 20, 12:00 p.m., Monday Monologues, ISU Parks Library steps
  • Sept. 25, 8:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m., Ames Farmers’ Market
  • Sept. 25, 2:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m., Play Ames: Imagine Your City community engagement festival, Franklin Park
  • Sept. 26, 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m., Octagon Art Festival
  • Oct. 9, 9:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m., Ames Farmers’ Market
  • Oct. 16, 9:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m., Ames Farmers’ Market

All performances are free and open to all.

Climate Change Theatre Action partners

Partners for this production include the Iowa State MFA Program in Creative Writing and Environment, The EcoTheatre Lab, the international Climate Change Theatre Action initiative (CCTA), Ames Climate Action Team, ISU Department of Geological and Atmospheric Sciences, Climate Reality Campus Corps at ISU, ISU Office of Sustainability/Live Green! Initiative, ISU Parks Library, Ames Public Library, Ames Main Street Farmers’ Market, the Community Engagement Living Lab and Play Ames: Imagine Your City community engagement festival, Octagon Center for the Arts, Ames High School earth and space science classes and Ames Middle School science classes.

For more information, visit, email or call 515-294-2624. ISU Theatre is funded by ISU Student Government and supported by the Transforming Liberal Arts and Sciences Endowment.

About ISU Theatre

As a part of the Iowa State University Department of Music and Theatre, ISU Theatre seeks to empower citizen artistry by engaging students and the community in transformative theatre and performing arts experiences which examine the human condition, encourage lifelong learning, teach artistic skills, prepare professionals, inspire empathy, explore creativity, build relationships, and embrace diversity. ISU Theatre administers a major and minor in performing arts and produces multiple theatre and performing arts productions throughout the year featuring performers, designers, and technicians from throughout the university.

The ISU Theatre CoLab Initiative seeks to foster collaboration and engagement between ISU Theatre and other groups both within ISU’s campus and throughout the broader community to create citizen artistry, inspire and be inspired by meaningful public discourse and expand opportunities for ISU students, faculty and staff.

Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to participate in ISU Theatre events. If you require a reasonable accommodation to do so, please contact ISU Theatre at least one week prior to the event at or 515.294.2624.