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In this musical, the ocean speaks for itself — and gives lawmakers an earful

Jennifer Kidwell as the Ocean in the musical 'Ocean Filibuster' at the Adrienne Arsht
Maggie Hall
Jennifer Kidwell as the Ocean in the musical 'Ocean Filibuster' at the Adrienne Arsht

'Ocean Filibuster' takes place in a governmental chamber where the effects of climate change are under debate.

What if the ocean could take a human form and pour its heart out about everything that people have done to it over the ages?

That's the idea behind the musical 'Ocean Filibuster,' which makes its Southeast premiere at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts from November 12 to November 20.

'Ocean Filibuster' is set in the future during a global senate hearing, where a bill is introduced to end the ocean as we know it. Things really heat up once the Ocean turns up to speak its piece — sort of a 'Mr. Smith Goes to Washington' approach to the threat of climate change.

Arsht has teamed up with Miami-Dade College-based Live Arts Miamito mount the show, which is part of the latter's ECOCulturaperformance series.

ECOCultura features dance, theater, spoken word and music events aimed at raising awareness about environmental challenges.

The musical was originally commissioned by American Repertory Theater in collaboration with the Harvard Center for the Environment.

After several discussions with Harvard scientists about ocean health, writer Lisa D'Amour decided on a legislative setting for the piece.

"I started to think: what if the ocean got fed up?" said D'Amour. "What if the ocean decided, 'You know what? I'm going to speak and speak and speak and speak and not shut up until I am heard.' "

D'Amour and her artistic partner, director Katie Pearl (they go by a single moniker, "PearlDamour" for their creative collaborations), felt that a musical format is a perfect way to get environmental messages across.

"One thing about musicals is that the songs get stuck in your head and you keep singing them," Pearl says.

One of Pearl's favorites from the show is a song extolling the beauty and luminescence of phytoplankton, with the singer accompanied by a plaintive acoustic guitar.

"And so sometimes I find myself at home in the shower singing about radiolaria," Pearl says, with a laugh. "Which is not something I ever would have done before this play."


'Ocean Filibuster'
Nov 12 - 20, 2022

Adrienne Arsht Center
for the Performing Arts
Carnival Studio Theater
1300 Biscayne Boulevard
Miami, FL 33132

For ticket information , please visit: www.liveartsmiami.org.

Christine DiMattei is WLRN's Morning Edition anchor and also reports on Arts & Culture.
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