Climate Scientists vs. Climate Change Deniers in 'Extreme Whether' Starring Jeff McCarthy at Theater for the New City

By Jon Sobel on Aug 28, 2014 02:34 PM EDT

Playwright and director Karen Malpede mixes advocacy and art in her new climate change "eco-drama" Extreme Whether.

The play stars Broadway veteran Jeff McCarthy (Beauty and the Beast, Chicago, Urinetown) as a respected climate scientist who clashes with a climate change denier, who also happens to be his sister. Malpede based McCarthy's character, "John Bjornson," on a number of real-life scientists, and in particular former NASA scientist Dr. James Hansen.

Currently in Minneapolis playing another professor – Henry Higgins in My Fair Lady at the Guthrie Theater – McCarthy will be joined in the cast of six by Ellen Fiske (The Royal Family on Broadway), George Bartenieff, Kathleen Purcell, Di Zhu and Alex Tavis.

Malpede has addressed other divisive issues in her dramas, such as genetic engineering and the U.S. torture program. Press notes point out that she has "adopted the Ibsenist paradigm (seen in An Enemy of the People and Rosmerholm) of setting struggles of the public interest as conflicts within a family."

As Malpede writes, "Extreme Whether is inspired by the real-life stories, current research and actual struggles of American climate scientists who found their research and their personal lives attacked and vilified by representatives of the fossil fuel industry…sexual and other accusations are made against them. Economics and incest figure in the plot. But the central characters emerge as stronger at the end."

Presented by Theater for the New City and Malpede and Bartenieff's Theater Three Collaborative, Extreme Whether runs October 2-26, 2014 at Theater for the New City, 155 First Ave., NYC. Theater Three Collaborative has also organized "Festival of Conscience" public forums in conjunction with the production, at which experts and public intellectuals will interact with audiences.

The play rides a crest of public arousal on the subject of climate change, following by less than two weeks New York's first big Climate March.

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TagsOff-Broadway, Extreme Whether, Theater for the New City, Theater Three Collaborative, climate change, global warming, Jeff McCarthy, Karen Malpede

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