The Great Immensity
A New Play (with Music) Tackling Our Planet's Future
The Great Immensity is a new play 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 such myriad individuals as botanists, paleontologists, climatologists, indigenous community leaders, polar bear tour guides and trappers, The Great Immensity gives voice to real people whose stories make the reality of the present crisis tangible and viscerally felt, inspiring us all to make the profound changes this moment demands.
Behind the Scenes
In the fall of 2009, the Princeton Environmental Institute (PEI) and 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 and the Humanities at Princeton.
Led by PEI Barron Visiting Professors
With input from Princeton researchers and students and along with experienced theater professionals, Cosson and Friedman created 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.
The project culminated in the production of the play, The Great Immensity, at McCarter's Berlind Theatre in Princeton on April 17, 2010.