New York City theatre company The Civilians has partnered with Princeton University’s High Meadows Environmental Institute and Lewis Center for the Arts for a new initiative titled The Next Forever. The three-year program will focus on generating new stories about environmental change and how society needs to navigate the future of the planet.
The Next Forever centers on the question "What stories can we tell to find our way out of the planetary crisis we're in?" The cross-disciplinary program will bring together students, theatre artists, scientists, historians, policy experts, and more to explore the environmental crisis and expand how storytelling helps us imagine the possibility to enact change.
“I believe that the scope and complexity of the present environmental crises ask all of us to think beyond business as usual," said The Civilians' Artistic Director Steve Cosson in a statement. "The Next Forever is an invitation to artists who are eager to break out of the writing studio or the rehearsal room and develop new work in conversation with leading scholars and thinkers.”
As a commission and residency program for artists, The Next Forever will include a series of public events and performances, as well as an undergraduate class on narrative and the environment. With two funded commissions for theatrical works, the program will also provide artists the opportunity to engage with Princeton faculty working in relevant areas. The commissions will be for original works that engage with environmental subject matter, which could undergo further development with The Civilians after completion.
“We are excited to engage practitioners with faculty and students to seed new works of art with potential for opening dialogue and new ways of understanding the urgent environmental challenges that confront society in the 21st century," shared Gabriel Vecchi, Director of High Meadows Environmental Institute and Professor of Geosciences and the High Meadows Environmental Institute at Princeton, in a statement. "The novel partnership that we are embarking upon with The Civilians and the Lewis Center for the Arts reflects HMEI’s commitment to bringing humanists and scientists together for real world impact.”
Judith Hamera, Chair of Lewis Center for the Arts and Professor of Dance at Princeton, added, “The NextForever is an important example of how artmaking works: not only to create experiences we consume in the theatre—though these are themselves worthy contributions to stimulating complex thinking about our most profound questions about our world and our responsibilities to it—but also as a set of processes through which this collaborative and interdisciplinary thinking happens.”
The Civilians and Princeton University previously partnered on the development of The Great Immensity in 2009. The work subsequently made its 2012 world premiere at Kansas City Repertory Theater and its New York premiere Off-Broadway at The Public. Its cast album was released last year.