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“It’s true that someone who does not believe in climate science may find their point of view challenged. But I welcome them to come, and then maybe we can have a conversation.”

Illustrations by Kyle Malone

What Two Degrees is not is the same play it was when it was introduced to DCPA audiences last February as a featured reading of the 2016 Colorado New Play Summit. Neither is it the same play it was on November 7, the day before Donald Trump won the presidential election. Palmquist already was planning to make changes to her script based on the victor because the outcome of this particular election would have a drastic impact on what Emma would be doing in Washington — helping to pass a possibly unpopular legislation, or trying to fight a perhaps scientifically unwise legislation, depending on which party controlled Congress. And in November, Americans elected a president whose firmly stated beliefs on climate change are, at best, highly oppositional to Emma’s.

— TIRA PALMQUIST, PLAYWRIGHT

“The election has absolutely changed the urgency of the play,” Palmquist said. “It also has changed the villain of the piece. One of the villains I see are those legislators who are not educated on what the science is saying. I also think apathy and fear are villains. I worry that people will give in to despair. Or worse, that they won’t understand that this is an actual pressing problem. Either eventually will mean that we are dooming future generations.” But Palmquist promises that her play is not unwelcoming of contrary points of view. “One of the main characters in the play, Clay, works in the mineral-exploration industry, and Clay has a point of view,” she said. “It is not necessarily my point of view, but I feel certain that we could get past that to find common ground. It’s true that someone who does not believe in climate science may find their point of view challenged. But I welcome them to come, and then maybe we can have a conversation.” There is a sacred place in theatre for comedies, musicals, romances and adventures. Montour-Larson believes plays that are political in nature are just as essential. “I think it’s important to remember artists are cultural architects,” she said. “The world needs people with reckless imaginations like Tira. We have a passion for the possible, and we have a commitment to creativity, because to create is to be fully human. And we are healers. Through our work, we can heal and give hope.” It has long been said that theatre is supposed to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. “And if that is true, then I think that it’s also important to try to find the hopefulness in this play,” Palmquist said. “This play ends up not being a tragedy. This is a play about what it means to start having conversations.”

TWO DEGREES

FEB 3 - MAR 12 • THE JONES ASL & Audio-Described Performance: Mar 5, 1:30pm

COMING UP FROM THEATRE COMPANY:

THE SECRET GARDEN It all began at the dawn of the 1900s when Frances Hodgson Burnett wrote the original novel The Secret Garden. The enchanting story revolves around a determined young girl, Mary Lennox, who sees potential beauty in a grim world. Mary isn’t the only one with determination and a powerful vision. The beloved classic has been brought to life by a dynamic collection of women throughout the years. The Secret Garden continued to flourish when Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Marsha Norman and Grammy-winning composer Lucy Simon adapted The Secret Garden into a musical that premiered on Broadway in 1991. The powerful duo created a captivating story of hope, renewal and the power that one young girl has. Jenn Thompson, who previously helmed Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike for the DCPA, will now carry on this timeless message for DCPA Theatre Company. Don’t miss your chance to be a part of the magic created by the inspiring women who have brought this classic story to life. The spirited production blossoms anew Apr 21 - May 28 in The Stage Theatre.

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Applause Magazine, February 21-26, 2017  

In-theater magazine produced for the Denver Center for the Performing Arts