Dawn King’s powerful play “The Trials” immerses the audience in a world teetering on the edge of ecological disaster. In this thought-provoking narrative, our generation faces judgment from the jurors of the future, represented by children. The question remains: are these young jurors seeking justice or driven by a desire for revenge?
Lydia Mackay, assistant professor in the Department of Theatre, collaborated with Michael C. Slattery, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Environmental and Sustainability Sciences and Kalee Appleton, assistant professor in the School of Art, to bring this compelling play to the main stage.
Mackay first introduced the play to the department’s selection committee last year, with the piece deeply resonating with the committee members due to its core themes of climate crisis and climate justice.
“One thing I really loved was the playwright’s message on the first page of the script, ‘Please take positive action against the environmental harm caused by the rehearsal and production of this play,’” Mackay explained. “It’s a unique artist statement, and I haven’t come across a playwright being so explicit about it before. Theatre can often be resource-consuming with props, costumes and large sets, so this stood out.”
The Department of Theatre is committed to repurposing and reusing materials for its productions. For this performance, Mackay is making use of the basic infrastructure of the Jerita Foley Buschman Theatre along with existing tables and chairs for the set design. The 15 cast members and 15 understudies are utilizing their personal clothing for the costumes, eliminating the need to purchase or create new clothing.
“The playwright’s message was the primary attraction to this piece and our department, along with our creative and production teams, wholeheartedly embraced and honored it,” said Mackay.
Mackay worked with Slattery and Appleton to create an immersive lobby experience for both students and patrons to engage with before watching the play. The lobby will feature two smartboards, one showcasing cast portraits created by Appleton’s photography class and the other displaying a live global air quality map.
“Visitors will have the opportunity to interact with the map, allowing them to compare regions affected by conflicts, drought or significant climate issues,” said Mackay.
To enhance the experience further, the Department of Environmental and Sustainability Sciences generously loaned two virtual reality headsets to provide a closer look at images from various parts of the world, making environmental issues feel more immediate and relevant to attendees.
The lobby will also feature posters directing visitors to valuable resources, including measuring their carbon footprint, current carbon emissions statistics, details about countries with high carbon emissions and the environmental impact of these emissions.
As part of her commitment to environmental awareness and engagement, Mackay invited the TCU Environmental Club to have a dedicated table in the lobby for attendees to learn more about the organization and explore opportunities to get involved.
“I would love to do cross-disciplinary collaborations as much as possible,” said Mackay. “TCU is an institution with so many amazing resources and incredible people who are experts in their fields, and to be able to bring that knowledge into our process is vital and worthwhile.”