Lend us your ears and don’t forget your farm boots

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Seeing a play at Willow Wisp Organic Farm in Damascus, Pa. Has a simple but highly recommended dress code: sturdy shoes.

At the farm, which recently completed a site-specific climate change play, the Limitless Stage features a courtyard lined with hydrangeas, greenhouses and a field of flowers. For four nights last week, audience members roamed the exterior, marching from stage to stage, while actors, musicians and waders performed in vibrant and whimsical costumes.

The performance is the second in a decade-long series, “Dream on the Farm,” in which the Farm Arts Collective, whose home sits on 30 acres, plans to produce one play per year focusing on climate change. .

“It is an intense and troubled time and as an organic farmer and theater maker we have to keep working on this problem,” said Tannis Kowalchuk, artistic director of the ensemble, who started the farm – who is just across the river. from New York – with her husband, Greg Swartz. (They sell their produce at Union Square and Grand Army Plaza farmers’ markets.)

This year’s play transported guests to an ‘Alice in Wonderland’ fantasy in which two scientists, astronomer Carl Sagan and biologist Lynn Margulis, are brought back from the dead to help save lives on Earth. of climate catastrophe. Onlookers watch Sagan meet eccentric figures representing the atmosphere and hydrosphere, as well as a man trying to find a way to escape the planet by traveling through space. The rest of the group followed the character of Margulis across the farm. (The audience was split in half to avoid overcrowding.)

At the end of the show, the audience of around 80 received a chilled cucumber soup made from ingredients grown on the land.

But the reality of the pandemic burst the fantasy bubble on Sunday after one of the people in the support group tested positive for the coronavirus, despite having been vaccinated, and the artistic collective decided to cancel the fifth and last performance.

Kowalchuk said she hopes the play will be performed again, however. She envisioned bringing it to New York, where the ensemble could find a new scene in a park or botanical garden.


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