A perfect storm of eco action and pageantry

Artist-in-residence Lucrecia Novoa, with an “earth spirit” head, above, and volunteers made costumes and giant puppets at Loisaida Inc. for the pageant. Photos by Sarah Ferguson

BY SARAH FERGUSON | There’s a last-minute frenzy building across the Lower East Side, as performers and activists finalize their costumes and scripts for the Ecological City Pageant that’s happening Sat., May 12, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Orchestrated by local artist Felicia Young, this six-hour procession is like a roving theatrical production to dramatize our collective efforts to confront climate change.

And like New York’s annual Village Halloween Parade, it’s always better to be in it than to spectate.

“This is not a parade to watch, but a transformational experience,” said Young, who hopes that by enacting mythic dramas about our climate plight, we may engage more deeply in seeking common-ground solutions.

Part passion play, part “eco pilgrimage,” the event’s aim is to help us envision a greener, more sustainable city.

Young and her nonprofit Earth Celebrations have partnered with more than 50 community and arts groups to put on the pageant, but they are hoping to attract many more participants.

They’re inviting people to show up on May 12 and throw on a garden sprite costume or help carry one of the giant puppet ensembles that volunteers and artists have created during the last three months. They’re also looking for people to help paint faces, marshal the crowd and videotape events. To sign up, go to earthcelebrations.com/volunteer-ecological-city-sign .

Pedro Alomar showed off one of the “climate change spirit” costumes he helped sew and paint at the workshop space at Loisaida Inc.

But it’s also fine to just dip into the spectacle anywhere along the route. Led by samba players and Afro-Dominican percussionists, costumed dancers and bicycle floats, the march will set off at 11 a.m. at Loisaida Inc. on E. Ninth St. between Avenues C and D. Some 20 different site performances will be staged at various community gardens and street corners along the route, and at the closing ceremonies along the East River.

Highlights include an “upcycling” performance, featuring dancers in plastic bags performing to Vivaldi’s “Concerto in F Major” (El Sol Brillante garden on E. 12th St. between A and B); a “mythic” battle between “pollution pirates” and garden river spirits at La Plaza Cultural (E. Ninth St. at Avenue C); and an “aria for climate solutions” sung by mezzo soprano Kat Hall (Parque de Tranquilidad, E. Fourth St. near Avenue C).

Earth School students in handcrafted headdresses will stage a ceremony to honor the green roof at their school, where giant paintings of vegetables will be strung across the facade. Folkie Stephan Said will sing an homage to the pond at Sixth St. and Avenue B Garden.

The pageant will coalesce around 4 p.m. in East River Park. Vangeline Theater is doing a butoh dance about pollution runoff (near the park’s Sixth St. bridge entrance); and a group called Not Fog will stage an interdisciplinary work about sea-level rise (at the painted labyrinth near Houston St.). Members of GOLES (Good Old Lower East Side) and LES Ready! are staging a play about surviving Hurricane Sandy beneath the Williamsburg Bridge, directed by Drew Vanderberg.

There will also be a “water dance” by choreographer Jody Sperling and Art of Motion. At the finale, a goddess sculpture made of bio-remediating mud will be “sacrificed” to the river. In addition, Crystal Field has composed a tribute to the Ecological City, to be sung by the Theater for the New City Chorus.

“It’s all about allowing people to really connect though making stuff,” said volunteer coordinator Christian Tandazo. “There’s a lot of concern about the environment. So, the idea is to use creativity to allow people to connect with each other in a more human and passionate way.”

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