Upstream Artists’ Collective is a group of interdisciplinary artists making theater with an environmental conscience seeking to reexamine what it means to be human on a global scale for the purposes of understanding our relationship to a changing climate. Upstream develops new work and reexamines existing work with an eco-arts aesthetic and makes this work accessible to audiences of all ages, colors, identities, incomes, and abilities.
Upstream makes theater about moments when the power goes out—when humanity is gathered around a fire, reduced and heightened to our core essentials. We want to reexamine our place on a now massive, unknown planet. Taking our name from William McDonough and Michael Braungart’s The Upcycle, Upstream seeks to enrich the lives of those we effect downstream—our artistic community and audiences—by providing challenging, inspiring, and provocative live theater.
Upstream believes that a play should be sustainable, beginning as disparate seedlings and constantly developing and redeveloping for a new audience and place. It is to have no end point—discarded like trash—but rather strengthened toward production and dispersed for new life. Sustainability and plays are not single use.
Upstream believes theater is fleeting and fragile. Like life itself, theater dangles on the precipice. No single performance can exist again and we aim to make each action, each artist, each moment a vital part of a balance of ephemeral and concrete.
Icebergs are melting and sad polar bears are floating adrift. This has been the climate change narrative plastered in the headlines. These photos make for sensational stories, exploded and shared and liked. They also leave an essential stone unturned: what can I do? How can changing my light bulbs and not using plastic save a polar bear?
Climate change resolution is urgent and more importantly, hopeful and exciting. In 2016, we pledge to see these issues not as insurmountable sensationalism but rather as beautifully crafted, personal stories with global impact. The joys and struggles of two people can feel like our own kind of apocalypse.
Upstream Artists’ Collective seeks to find a new narrative that is NOW polar bear free! Upstream is taking on the “less sexy” climate change stories. What can we do? And, importantly, where can we find hope?
Upstream is working with climate and policy experts, to develop our plays with sustainability in mind. For us, that means nothing can be single-use. It means reinventing the way we makes things, weighing cost and benefit and harm.. It means paying people, being resourceful and never aiming higher than we can reach. We believe in the power of a story to communicate essential, human truths.