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Educational Entertainment in ‘Ocean Filibuster’

The one-man nature of this show was an obvious representation of the connection between humans and the ocean.
LookOutOver1+-+Pin+Lim%2C+Forest+Photography+University+of+Houston+2022
LookOutOver1 – Pin Lim, Forest Photography University of Houston 2022

 

In the face of a rapidly changing climate, an ever-growing pollution problem and an uncertain future amongst it all, where do humans stand? PearlDamour’s production “Ocean Filibuster” is an exploration of this very question. The quippy, critical piece was performed last Saturday, March 23 at Kingsbury Hall in partnership with UtahPresents.

Actor Jenn Kidwell plays two characters at war: Mr. Majority and the Ocean. The performance starts with a bill proposal from Mr. Majority, leader of the Global Senate, to shrink and separate the ocean into seven smaller and more manageable bodies of water. Soon after the bill’s proposal, however, Ocean appears in human form to filibuster the bill.

While Kidwell travels with the show to perform, the cast also includes an ensemble of local talent. The ensemble of this performance was comprised of students from the U’s musical theater department. Through a combination of large-scale projection, song and audience interaction, the show was exceptionally unique, engaging and educational.

Performance

The one-man nature of this show was an obvious representation of the connection between humans and the ocean. Still, Kimbal’s energetic performance reinforced the confusing and often contradictory beliefs that exist within humans about the world that surrounds them.

The show felt built to encourage self-reflection. Watching Kimbal argue with herself in every scene where Ocean and Mr. Majority was a feat of performance. She disagreed, then worked to prompt consideration for the internal disagreements that intrinsically exist within humans. We plan for the future in the name of progress, we move like we’re running out of time, but what about appreciating the here and now?

“We are a process,” said a cast member in one of the final lines — a reminder that we are just as much a part of the ocean as the plants and fish that live inside it.

The exploration of this interconnectedness paired with projections that visually represent oceanic systems made for an engaging educational experience. With video of microorganisms in the ocean to airways that span across the world, the show gave the audience a solid understanding of the ocean from its smallest to biggest levels. It also gave an understanding of exactly what humans need to fight for to create a more sustainable future.

Interactive Intermission

By far the most unique part of the show was its immersive intermission. To tailor the performance to the environments it’s performed in, the show uses its intermission to explore location-specific challenges with water. Unsurprisingly, this intermission included an opportunity for education on the Great Salt Lake.

One table featured information on American white pelicans. Recently, these pelicans have left their breeding grounds on Gunnison Island, even though nearly 20,000 pelicans have occupied this island in the past. The effect of increased traffic on the island by predators and humans combined with the lowering water levels of the Great Salt Lake have left people questioning whether these pelicans will ever return.

Another station during the intermission used an augmented reality app called Deep Wonder on courtesy iPads. The app allowed participants to explore and learn about parts of the ocean floor. While the 15-minute intermission wasn’t quite enough time to check out each station, every station was interactive and informative in one way or another.

 

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@JosiHinds

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About the Contributor
Josi Hinds, Arts Writer
Josi Hinds is in her second year at the University of Utah, majoring in communications with a minor in both gender studies and Spanish (for now). She grew up in Bozeman, Montana, and moved to Salt Lake in hopes of venturing out in the world and meeting new people. She joined the Chronicle out of a love for writing and meeting new people, and she hopes to share stories that broaden both her and others' perspective on the world

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