A cosmic debate

Macrocosm vs microcosm in "Dream on the Farm"

By LIAM MAYO
Posted 8/5/21

DAMASCUS, PA — The Farm Arts Collective inspired, educated and delighted with their most recent production, "Dream on the Farm."

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A cosmic debate

Macrocosm vs microcosm in "Dream on the Farm"

Posted

DAMASCUS, PA — The Farm Arts Collective inspired, educated and delighted with their most recent production, "Dream on the Farm."

As listed in the production's program notes, "Artistic Director Tannis Kowalchuk and the ensemble have committed to presenting a decade-long series of plays about climate change set to take place between 2020-2030."

This year's "Dream on the Farm," the second annual installment in this "Decalogue" of eco-dramas, had as its theme a debate between the macrocosmic and the microcosmic perspectives on the Earth and its inhabitants. 

The performance set astronomer Carl Sagan (played to wide-eyed perfection by Hudson Williams Eynon) opposite biologist Lynn Margulis (played with earnest passion by Jess Beveridge, who served also as the performance's production director). Was it better to view the world at the microbial, microbiological level, as Margulis advocated? Or was it better to look at the stars and consider the macrocosm, as Sagan suggested? And which would better help save the planet from the encroaching evils of climate change?

Each of the two led the audience through meetings with a lively cast of characters from the macro and the micro worlds, accompanied by the Alice-in-Wonderland, topsy-turvy energy of Tannis Kowalchuk's referee figure, The White Rabbit. 

These meetings walked the audience through the beauty of the natural world while also presenting the dangers and the threats that it faced. Meetings with the Hydrosphere and the Atmosphere, portrayed by actors in bright colorful costumes on tall stilts, showed off the power of the macrocosmic forces that surround the Earth, while warning that humans would die off if the damage done to them by climate change was not mended. The microcosmic forces of Corn and Fungus showed the strength and the power of a diverse ecosystem, while the plight of The Butterfly (played heart-rendingly by Julia Kehrley) showed how, when ecosystems were damaged by development and environmental collapse, migratory species could start to die away. 

The performance came to an end in a draw, after Sagan and Margulis shunted off the extra-terrestrial who had been brought in to judge the competition. Neither the macrocosmic nor the microcosmic perspective was enough to save the planet on its own, they said. The two had to work in conjunction, hand in hand, for any change to occur. 

"Dream on the Farm" was directed by Tannis Kowalchuk and Mimi McGurl. While all performances of this year's "Dream on the Farm" are sold out, the Farm Arts Collective will present "Lady Capulet" by Melissa Bell on Saturday, September 25 and Sunday, September 26; to see the Collective's full schedule, visit www.farmartscollective.org.

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