‘A Sea Change’ provides students opportunity to collaborate in ‘meaningful’ performance

Kali-Ray Skinner/Staff Writer

An inter-disciplinary performance on sea level rise will provide an opportunity for areas that are separate to come together to make an impact, according to Robert Gutsche, Jr.

The producer of “A Sea Change: A Multi-Disciplinary Collaboration in Response to a Global Threat,” says that the theatre performance goes beyond the University’s departments coming together, and is an opportunity for students.

“More important than faculty learning how to work together is finding opportunities for students to collaborate in ways that are meaningful for them… to [have their work and their colleagues] be a part of something larger than it might be on it’s own,” said Gutsche, who also works as a professor in the School of Communication and Journalism. “The students are desperately hungry to share their work.”

Plans for the project began last year, when the former School of Journalism and Mass Communication merged with what was then the College of Architecture + the Arts. The merger brought about the College of Communication, Architecture + the Arts and Interdisciplinary Seed Grants which provide funds for research and “creative activity” that spans various disciplines according to the CARTA website.

“What we decided to do was get together people who were interested within the college about sea level rise…[some] people were interested in joining forces…and so what we decided to do was figure out how to really benefit from those collaborations,” said Gutsche.

The production merges music, dance, film production, journalism, theatre and science to create a narrative about the changing environment, according to Gutsche.

The performance will showcase environmental research through different mediums including dance, data visualization, art and virtual reality. The schools of Architecture; Music; Environment, Arts and Society; Computing and Information Sciences are involved in the production, as well as Miami Beach Urban Studios, the Sea Level Solutions Center, the Office of University Sustainability, MAST@FIU BBC the libraries’ Geographic Information Systems Center.

Gray Read, an associate professor at the School of Architecture, is offering a piece based on “Powers of Ten,” two documentaries by Charles and Ray Eames from the 1960’s that focuses on the relative scale of the universe based on the powers of ten.

“[The performance is] actually one piece that describes a sort of a walk back in history by powers of ten, concerning carbon dioxide, the climate, and our relationship to it,” said Read. “It will be a walk back in history by powers of ten, covering carbon dioxide, the climate, and our relationship to it,” said Read. “It’s a powerful piece; [it] really places you in this spatial scale and gives you the sense of how you fit in this incredibly-sort of large structure.”

Her piece will be separated in two parts. The first part at the beginning of the performance will take the audience back in time to a billion years ago. At the end of the performance, the piece will look towards the future.

“In terms of centuries, a thousand years out, even a milion years out, our decisions make a difference. We can’t understand what we’re doing without understanding that time scale, and that’s what the piece does,” said Read.

Kathryn Longo, choir director at FIU, is currently collaborating with choreographer, Crystal Patient, on a dance and voice piece for the performance.

According to Longo, a group of eight singers will perform “Alleluia,” a classical piece composed by Randall Thompson.

“[The song] really feels to me like a wave, like this gush of sound…. And it feels like a great big wave crashing over and then the whole thing cascades back,” said Longo.

Gutsche says that the dance performance will feature dancers that look like water.

“I don’t think there has ever been anything like this before at FIU… environmental scientists, social scientists, cultural studies researchers, and students who are going out and telling the stories about how our world is already starting to look and feel different,” said Gutsche.

There will be performances on Tuesday, April 4 at 7:30 p.m. at The Wertheim Performing Arts Center MMC and on Friday, April 7 at 7:30 p.m. at the Mary Anne Wolfe Theater BBC. Admission to the event is free but attendees need to reserve their seats.

Image retrieved from Flickr. 

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