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The Princeton Atelier and Princeton Environmental Institute

present The Great Immensity

The Great Immensity is a new play-in-progress with music that tackles the monumental topic of the environment and the future of our planet. The play explores the themes of climate change, deforestation and extinction in two distinct locations: Barro Colorado Island (BCI) in the Panama Canal and the city of Churchill in arctic Canada. Both of these extraordinary places share unique natural wonders, a center of scientific research, and a relationship to global shipping: the Panama Canal and the Port of Churchill. (The play takes its name from an enormous Chinese Panamax ship that the authors observed crossing the Panama Canal).

Drawing on interviews with botanists, paleontologists, climatologists, indigenous community leaders, polar bear tour guides and trappers, The Great Immensity gives voice to people whose stories make the reality of the present crisis accessible in fresh and compelling ways.

Behind the Scenes

In the fall of 2009, the Princeton Environmental Institute (PEI) and the Princeton Atelier program at the Lewis Center for the Arts initiated a yearlong collaborative project lying at the intersection of the environment and the performing arts. The collaboration is part of a continuing effort to create linkages between PEI's research and academic programs, the Humanities at Princeton.

PEI Barron Visiting Professors and Princeton Atelier Guest Artists

The project is being led by this year's PEI Barron Visiting Professors in the Humanities and the Environment and Princeton Atelier guest artists — Steven Cosson and Michael Friedman.

With input from Princeton researchers and students and along with experienced theater professionals, Cosson and Friedman are creating an interpretive theatrical piece with music — The Great Immensity — that examines the current environmental crisis including themes involving climate change and global sustainability.

Steve Cosson comes to Princeton as founding Artistic Director of the acclaimed New York city-based investigative theater company The Civilians. Michael Friedman is a composer and lyricist and a founding Associate Artist of The Civilians.

Atelier Course Description

ATL 496/THR 496
Environmental Documentary Theater
Steve CossonMichael Friedman
Theater director Steve Cosson and composer/lyricist Michael Friedman of the acclaimed theater company The Civilians will lead an Atelier on investigative and musical theater. They will develop a new project, The Great Immensity, through a network of collaborative partnerships with scholars and researchers at the Princeton Environmental Institute as well as with directors, writers, actors, designers, choreographers and composers, and Atelier students. The Great Immensity tackles the monumental topic of the environment and our planet's future, exploring themes of climate change, deforestation and extinction by using interviews with researchers working in these areas.

Related News


Acting Out Environmentalism

Art and science collaboration produces work-in-progress on climate change

Q&A: The making of 'The Great Immensity'

The Great Immensity: New Play, New Look @ Climate Change, Future of Our Planet

Princeton Packet Article

TimeOFF Article



Event Information


April 17, 2010
2:00 PM & 7:30 PM

Free and open to the public but tickets are required.

For tickets, please call University Ticketing at 609.258.9220 or The Berlind Box Office at 609.258.2797.

Berlind Theatre
McCarter Theatre Center
91 University Place
Princeton, New Jersey



Related Links



The Civilians


The Great Immensity on Facebook

Great Immensity Student Blog



The Princeton Atelier was endowed in 2009 through the generosity of a donor who has chosen to remain anonymous. The Atelier is additionally supported through The Newhouse Foundation, The Erik C. Blachford '89 Fund, The Schare-Pfaffenroth Endowment Fund, The Jordan Roth '97 Performance Fund and The Peter T. Joseph Foundation.


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