Email this articleE-mail this story  Discuss this articleWrite letter to editor  Discuss this articleOrder a classified ad
They're not just blowing hot air

Travelling play thrills, educates students

Mike W. Braynt
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Dec 21/01) - Perhaps it's fitting that Evergreen Theatre's 10-week stint travelling from school to school promoting climate-change awareness should reach its terminus in the NWT.

After all, climatologists believe that the Mackenzie Valley is warming up faster than almost anywhere else on Earth.

"The idea is to pique the interest of students toward climate change, and the idea that they can make a difference," said public education specialist Brenda Hans with the Department of Resources, Wildlife and Economic Development.

The GNWT, along with the three territories' Northern Climate Change Schools project, sponsored Evergreen Theatre's travelling "Full of Hot Air" skit.

Weledeh Catholic school's involvement with the project provided the stepping stone for bringing Evergreen Theatre to Yellowknife.

The travelling duo -- Trevor Anderson and Sarah Smith -- visited all six city elementary schools, the legislative assembly, as well as schools in Rae-Edzo, Fort Providence and Hay River, during their week-long stay in the NWT, Dec. 9 through 14.

They also toured schools throughout Alberta.

"It's a friendly, non-threatening way of presenting climate change to kids," said Smith. "We trick them into learning about it. The songs will stick in your head, you'll be surprised."

Full of Hot Air's plot pits evil climate-buster Methane against the naive, but good-natured heroine Air through a series of catchy sing-a-long skits that entertain the kids, while highlighting the science of global warming.

The play's performance approach is based on methods used by interpreters at Kananaskis Park in Alberta to engage visiting tourists, and educate them on the environment.

"Since they're out of work in the winter, they figured they would do classroom-based stuff," said Smith, who worked as an interpreter at the park before going on the road with Evergreen Theatre. "It was so successful that they took it on the road."

The play is an interactive performance that allows the students to get in on the act, as well.

"I think it's important that we keep our Earth healthy and do our own part," said Grade 6 Weledeh student Peter Boggis, who played the sun.

"They're a well-oiled machine," said Weledeh assistant principal Joanne McGrath. "They've been 10 weeks on the road, but they're very energetic. It's like their first performance."