It is 40 years in the future. In the senate chamber of a global governing body, “Mr. Majority” introduces a bill to shrink the Earth’s quickly rising oceans down to seven smaller, more manageable inland seas. The Ocean herself arrives to take a stand.
“Ocean Filibuster,” a new musical theater production at the American Repertory Theater, examines the intimate relationship between nature and humanity.
“One of the reasons why we as the human race are able to continue our lifestyle is because the ocean takes so much from us by absorbing carbon and trash,” said director Katie Pearl. “What if the Ocean got so fed up with taking it until they started talking and wouldn’t shut up until someone listens to them?”
The play was commissioned and developed through a collaboration with the Harvard University Center for the Environment (HUCE). In 2017, Ryan McKittrick, A.R.T.’s director of artistic programs, and Diane Borger, former A.R.T. executive director, invited Pearl to the theater to discuss commission opportunities. Pearl was then also part of the Theater, Dance, & Media faculty as a visiting lecturer.
“Ocean Filibuster” was slated to open in 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic halted the plan.
“It’s been a long process, in part because the pandemic delayed our opening, but it’s allowed us to deepen the work,” said playwright Lisa D’Amour. “The uprisings of 2020 brought to the surface not only racial equity, but also climate justice. This show is arriving at the right moment, even if we had to wait a year and a half.”
During the delay, D’Amour and Pearl worked over Zoom with their team and worked on multimedia components that accentuate the play’s message.