Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Meet Tira Palmquist, playwright and author of the ''cli-fi'' play "Two Degrees," a drama that will have its mainstage world premiere in Denver in February 2017

MEET Tira Palmquist here: AND HERE:

''Two Degrees'' - a new kind of cli-fi play that will have its world mainstage debut in Denver in early 2017. (February 3, 2017 – March 12, 2017)

The world premiere of ''Two Degrees ''by Tira Palmquist (February 3, 2017 – March 12, 2017), about a scientist studying climate change who is invited to a U.S. Senate congressional hearing.


Palmquist describes her play as...

"... a cheery story about climate change."

An interview with the playwright of "Two Degrees" will be posted here shortly:

''TWO DEGREES'': A cool new cli-fi play about frozen people on a thawing planet


Emma Phelps is a paleo-climatologist, focusing on ice in Greenland. In drilling and studying ice core samples, she sees first hand the symptoms of our changing planet, which makes the need to act all the more crucial and urgent. In addition to her growing sense of urgency for the planet, Emma, as a recent widow, experiences grief that compounds itself with each passing month. Now she's been asked to come to Washington, D.C. to testify in a Senate Committee regarding climate change legislation, and in this intersection of science and politics, of politics and the personal, she finds more than just a little is breaking up under the strain of change.

Cast Breakdown

  2 women/2 men
  • Emma Phelps - 50. a climate scientist, who studies ice. 
  • Clay Simpson - 40. a lobbyist for a multinational mining company.
  • Louise Allen - 50. a U.S. Senator from Michigan. college classmate of Emma's.
  • Jeffrey Phelps. 50. Emma's late husband.
        The actor playing Jeffrey also plays:
        Eric Wilson (Senator Allen's Chief of Staff) and
        Malik Peterson (the extreme weather carpenter at NEEM Station, Greenland).




Tira was a pastor's kid in  the borderlands between Minnesota and Iowa... She fully intended to be an actor from the time she was old enough to memorize the entire cast album of ''You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown.'' But then she also really loved to write, and wrote relentlessly during high school and college. At that point, she was encouraged to go to grad school as a poet, and she did.

She also I wrote, published poems, had a baby, kept writing, occasionally acted, fell into a multi-disciplinary theater company, directed shows, and then... found herself writing plays.

She says: "I constantly reinvent myself. I am currently reinventing what it means to be 50-something."

Here are highlights from Arts Journalist John Moore's conversation with  'Two Degrees' playwright Tira Palmquist:

Two Degrees Michelle Shupe Summit John Moore: Can you introduce us to the world of your play, Two Degrees?

Tira Palmquist: I would say Two Degrees is a play about climate change, but it’s also a play about grief. That was really the entrance point for me to tell the story, because I feel the grief for the planet so palpably that it became the predominant metaphor of the play. Two Degrees is about a woman who’s doing her best to help people understand why climate change is an important issue. And at the same time, she’s coming to terms with her own personal grief.

(PHOTO: Michelle Shupe as Emma in an earlier production of 'Two Degrees.' Photo by John Moore.) 

John Moore: Tell us about your protagonist.

Tira Palmquist: The writing of the play really began with a challenge from an actor friend of mine who had just turned 45. We were having beers on her porch when she said, ‘You know what sucks is being 45 and being at the height of my abilities, and having all the opportunities dry up. So what for your next play, you need to write a part for a woman over 45.’ And I said, ‘OK. I will do that, Stacy.’ And then it really churned in my head for a long time because I thought, ‘Well, I know I don’t want to write a play about a woman who’s had a divorce, or an empty-nester or a woman going through menopause, because I feel like that’s low-hanging fruit. So what am I going to write about?

John Moore: So you wrote about a scientist.

Tira Palmquist: I really like science. I think science is important. It's an important issue for me because we see science being dismissed to a certain degree in this country. There’s a kind of anti-science sentiment running in our country. And I’m trying to do my best to put science on stage, because science is going to save us.

Two Degrees Tira Palmquist quote Summit

John Moore: And you’re a Christian pastor’s kid?
Tira Palmquist: Yes, but science and religion were never in conflict in my family. My father was never anti-science. He was always a curious individual. I remember having a conversation with him when The Last Temptation of Christ came out about whether Joshua Ben Joseph could have been married. And he said, ‘Of course Joshua Ben Joseph would have been married. They called him ''Rebbe'' - and a rabbi had to be married then.’ And he was never upset about that. It didn’t diminish the story of what the Jewish  false messiah. And I just remember thinking, ‘Wow, I just learned something about my father that I didn’t know before.’

John Moore: Has being a Christian pastor’s kid affected your voice as a playwright?

Tira Palmquist: Oh, absolutely. I sat in church week after week listening to my father telling stories in the form of a sermon. But I feel like my life as a playwright has been about finding my own voice. All your life as a pastor’s kid, you’re trying your hardest not to be the pastor’s kid - to set yourself apart from the expectations people have of you. And I think to a certain degree that fuels my passion for telling stories, But at the same time, being a pastor’s kid means you spend a lot of time watching your father or mother attending to a congregation. It’s not just ‘theatre.’ It’s about your relationships with your congregation. If there’s anything I learned from that, it’s that your stories on stage need to have that kind of impact. If you’re not changing people’s lives; if you’re not changing people’s minds; then I don’t know why you’re doing it.
Two Degrees. Michelle Shupe and Jason Delane.
John Moore: So you have written a play that is about climate and grief and science. That sounds kind of mournful. Is it a sad play?

Tira Palmquist: It’s actually a pretty funny play, oddly enough. There’s a lot of humor in it, and a lot of it comes not just from the fact that we are dealing with real people who have complicated and difficult and sometimes messed-up lives, but from seeing our protagonist struggle with these issues. If this were the story of a woman who can’t be a good scientist, and all we did was see her struggle, that would be kind of pathetic. But instead, this is the story of a scientist who’s actually a full, rich and complicated human being.

(Pictured: Michelle Shupe and Jason Delane in 'Two 


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    @AJEvancie Meet Tira Palmquist of ''cli-fi'' play "Two Degrees," a drama that will have USA premiere in 2017 

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