Examining climate change in readings

Allegheny College’s Playshop Theater presented staged readings of “Sila” and “Forward”, two works from playwright Chantal Bilodeau, on Saturday, Sept. 8 and Sunday, Sept. 9.

The two works focus on the future of the Canadian Arctic, as well as the impacts of climate change on the region.

Alison Celigoi, ’19, acted in Forward. She played the part of Ice, a character which served as a physical manifestation of nature.

“Ice was kind of nature personified,” Celigioi said. “She was just kind of to move the story along by just singing.”

Celigoi said performing in the show helped her realize the extent of the destruction caused by the human impact on the environment.

“The show was all about climate change and how the ice was melting. The polar ice caps were melting,” Celigoi said. “And it really just made me reflect on climate change and all that we are doing to ruin the earth.”

Mark Shimkets, ’19, played Sverdrup, a sea captain, in Forward.

“The main story line of Forward, it was a main story, and then interwoven stories throughout, that were all connected,” Shimkets said. “And throughout the main storyline, the character of Sverdrup was the sea captain for the ship that they were trying to travel to in the Arctic.”

Shimkets said playing Sverdrup helped him see life in a new way.

“I wish I would have been able to do more with it,” Shimkets said. “Because it was a staged reading, we only had a few weeks to prepare for it, but I think like every character I’ve tried to work with so far, it’s given me another perspective of life and passion and care.”

The show was all about climate change and how the ice was melting. The polar ice caps were melting.

— Alison Celigoi, Class of 2019

Lee Scandinaro, community coordinator for the Meadville Area Recreation Foundation, performed in Sila. He read the part of Thomas, a member of the Coast Guard.

“I quite enjoyed getting to explore something I knew very little about,” Scandinaro said. “I generally am not a climate change denier and I know some things, but I wouldn’t say I know anything about, I’m not sure if you saw any of it, but I definitely didn’t know about the Iqaluit culture, could be directly affected by climate change, as well as, there’s some specific political positions that were being clear in the show, I had no idea of the views. So basically that was the joy of it.”

Scandinaro said the character of Thomas showcased a dilemma facing researchers in the real world.

“So my character in the show was letting certain scientists come in and do some testing of the ice thickness, that were from his perspective were not political, but were actually a plan to further the buildup of infrastructure in the Arctic region, which would further climate change,” Scandinaro said.

Scandinaro said Forward showed how science is related to the practice of telling stories.

“The show was very much about, I think, the intersection of science and storytelling,” Scandinaro said. “There was a moment, the show concludes with, where one of the scientists, who’s a very prominent scientist, and a native, an indigenous woman from the Arctic, who is very much the storyteller, where they literally grab hands. And I think that the lesson there is that science and storytelling are sort of on the opposite spectrum, but they’re very close, and they’re important to each other.”