Vangeline Theater seeks to increase environmental awareness in New York and nationally, resulting in a positive impact on our ecosystem. As a key component of this initiative, Vangeline Theater will remount an evening-length Butoh performance piece, for a total of three performances, and the final show will coincide with Earth Day on April 22, 2017.
Wake Up and Smell the Coffee utilizes the intensity of the art form Butoh to convey a serious problem: the environmental repercussions of non-recyclable waste. The tradition and techniques of Butoh are rooted in an art form that has the power to bring us back to our humanity and become closer to the Earth through meditative and hypnotic movement motifs. This includes uncomfortable truths we need to face, such as confronting the “garbage,” or grotesque parts of our society. The performers will literally dance through garbage; a set made of collected unsalvageable coffee cups. This initiative will serve to increase environmental awareness in New York City through dance and have a tangible impact on our ecosystem.
Currently, Americans are responsible for a staggering 58% of the paper cup consumption in the world. NYC counts 212 Starbucks, 454 Dunkin Donuts, and 974 other coffee shops for a total of 1,700 coffee shops within the five boroughs. This results in a daily mountain of non-recyclable coffee cup trash, which, for the most part, ends-up in a landfill. There are 4100 coffee shops in the Tri-State area alone, which represents an estimated 14 million cups that New Yorkers will generate over the next 10 years. The paper cups used at coffee shops across NYC are laminated with a plastic resin, polyethylene, which helps keep beverages warm and prevents leaking but also prevents the cup from being recycled. Once in a landfill, the paper begins to decompose, releasing methane, a greenhouse gas with 23 times the heat-trapping power of carbon dioxide. This issue is directly linked to the threat of global warming.
Wake Up and Smell the Coffee originally premiered at Triskelion Arts in 2015. It included a set made of 1500 used, disposable coffee cups, illustrating the extensive amount of non-recyclable waste generated by society. Since that performance, the state of waste in New York hasn’t changed for the better, so a revised and amplified 2017 version, now featuring New York Butoh star Vangeline backed by a company of nine members from Vangeline Theater, will expand the reach of the work’s message with new choreography, performance elements, and panel discussions with environmental scientists such as Paul Bartlett, Environmental Services Consultant and scholar in residence at St. Peter’s University. The show will inspire audience members to make a positive lifestyle change. Vangeline Theater will partner with the public education program GreeNYC, and will have audiences sign pledge forms online. Programs will be printed on recycled materials. Sustainable, bpa free, recycled & recyclable durable mugs will be available at each performance to encourage the discontinuation of buying and disposing coffee cups.