What do you get when you take a piece of theater about feminism and climate change, told as a nature documentary, that follows the life of a bowhead whale over 260 years — and perform it during the pandemic?
Adelphi University's "first fully virtual theatrical event."
"This Odd Geometry of Time" debuts Thursday night and runs through Sunday. It's presented by two Adelphi grads — playwright Megan Lohne '04 and director Shoshanah Tarkow '06 — and their immersive theater company, Like Fresh Skin.
The show will be performed on Zoom and streamed to the audience on YouTube. But Lohne says "it's not a play — it's an experience."
Sure, the script as written could be done onstage. "But it's also written understanding that it's going to be an experience online."
It follows a pandemic piece Tarkow says "was a cross-pollination of three Shakespeare plays, set in a virtual learning environment very similar to Zoom."
This one takes place over the 260-year lifespan of its narrator, a whale named Galina (who has a Russian accent), with historical women featured in the documentary.
"Right now, especially, it's important to highlight how we can move forward and do things to help save our planet," says Lohne, 38, who's originally from Garden City and lives in East Harlem.
Tarkow says the production makes apparent how people are connected across time and space.
For contemporary audiences, with climate change, "it's interesting to help people realize how the actions we take today have a major impact on people who will be alive 260 years from now," says Tarkow, 36, of Ditmas Park, Brooklyn.
The major themes are climate and intersectional feminism — which Tarkow explains "is the notion that in order for the feminist movement to truly move forward, it has to include all women and all humans who identify as female." That includes female-identifying transgender people and women of all races, socioeconomic classes and religious affiliations.
"For us it was important, especially in the time we're living in, for the show to represent women of all kinds," she says.
The production arrives right before a presidential election whose climate stakes Tarkow describes in existential terms.
She says "what we are electing is the next four years of legislation. And we've been told that we have 10 to 20 years to solve the climate problem, or else the world as we know it will no longer exist. And while that seems really fatalistic, it's also the truth."
The playwright says she can make her biggest climate impact with her voice.
She says she can conserve water, not use plastic bottles, "do all of the things that everybody does on a daily basis in hopes that we can conserve our environment."
"The bigger thing is having a voice, and being able to reach people to inspire them to do that as well," Lohne says. "And if I've done it through making a funny Russian whale, then I guess I've succeeded in some capacity at spreading the word and making people conscious to be better humans to the environment."
"This Odd Geometry of Time" will be performed Thursday, Friday and Sunday. Tickets are free, but registration is required. For more info, see oddgeometryoftime.com.