Two New Outdoor Plays Explore Truth-Telling on Land Domination, Resilience, and Climate Justice

Press Release
Bob Martin as Ezell holding a frack pipe in Clear Creek Creative's Ezell: Ballad of a Land Man. Photo by Erica Chambers.

NEW HAVEN, Conn., April 29, 2022—The urgency of communicating critical information, the fallout of a pandemic, the long-lasting effects of climate change, land displacement, intergenerational trauma, and resilience are all themes tackled in the series “Crossing the Mountains: Art to Communicate Land Domination, Resilience, and Climate Justice across Divides.” The series features two outdoor live action plays, Ezell: Ballad of a Land Man and This Place Is a Message from May 12 to May 22 on Yale’s West Campus in Orange. This Place Is a Message runs from May 12 to 14 at 6:00pm and May 15 at 1:00pm. Ezell: Ballad of a Land Man runs May 19 to 21 at 5:30pm and May 22 at 1:00pm. Both events are free and open to the public but registration and tickets are required.

Developed and produced by Clear Creek Creative and presented by Yale Schwarzman Center and Yale School of Public Health HAPPY Initiative, Ezell: Ballad of a Land Man is an environmental, cultural, and spiritual parable derived from living in the foothills of Appalachia. In this play, Ezell’s choices, traumas, ancestors, and beliefs intersect with themes of domination and resilience as he seeks to take advantage of an anticipated fracking boom and the opportunity to reconnect with the people and land of his raising. Ezell explores the complexities of today’s issues of climate change, indigenous erasure, and environmental extraction and is based on the artists’ lived experience in their rural Appalachian community. This immersive experience features a contemplative walk through the woods to the performance site led by a guide and accompanied by musicians with a farm-to-table meal following the performance. Accessible accommodations for the entire journey are possible with advance notice.

“Ezell as a multi-disciplinary artistic project is an attempt to make plain and disrupt domination: to reveal the patterns of domination behaviors within this character Ezell, within his relationship to others and the land, within his livelihoods and his ways of being, within his ancestry and his belief system, said Carrie Brunk, producer of the Ezell project and ensemble artist with Clear Creek Creative. “It is meant for everyone who witnesses it as a motivation to continue — or an invitation to begin — the work of discovering and disrupting domination within and around themselves and to do so as an act of love and liberation.”

The way life-and-death information is shared across vast divides of discipline, time, and ideology is complicated and polarizing. An original performance about public health disasters and what it means to live in them, This Place Is a Message is a devised, outdoor ensemble performance using the immediacy of COVID-19 to highlight the urgent realities of climate change. A project of Faultline Ensemble, YSC, and the Yale School of Public Health’s Humanities, Arts and Public Health Practice at Yale (HAPPY) Initiative, this original play weaves together letters from climate scientists about the emotional impact of studying climate change, efforts to warn future civilizations about long-range nuclear waste, and experiences of health communication during the pandemic. Based in part on Joe Duggan’s Is This How You Feel project documenting the emotions of climate scientists, the performance aims to change our emotional responses to the climate crisis.

“We want to draw on the emotional experiences of frontline communicators in both acute and chronic crises to establish the power of live performance as a tool for education and processing collective grief,” said Taiga Christie, arts and health fellow, YSC and HAPPY. “Over the past two years, all of us have experienced the challenges of communicating life and death information across divides. These projects ask us to reflect on that experience as it relates to climate justice and building new futures.”

This Place Is a Message runs from May 12 to 14 at 6:00pm and May 15 at 1:00pm. Ezell: Ballad of a Land Man will run May 19 to 21 at 5:30pm and May 22 at 1:00pm. To register for this event and for upcoming spring and summer programming, visit

# # #

About YSC: Yale Schwarzman Center (YSC) is transformational for Yale in providing, for the first time, a center for student life and the arts at the historic heart of the Yale University campus. YSC produces programs and collaborative arts experiences geared toward audiences within and beyond the Yale campus. Learn more at

Funders for Ezell include: New England Foundation for the Arts' National Theater Project, with lead funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and additional funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. Ezell is a National Performance Network (NPN) Creation & Development Fund Project co-commissioned by Carpetbag Theater in partnership with Mondo Bizarro and NPN. Ezell is made possible, in part, through a Continuation grant for our partnership with Mondo Bizarro from the Network of Ensemble Theaters' Travel & Exchange Network (NET/TEN), supported by lead funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Ezell has also been supported through Kentucky Artist Rescue Funds and an Al Smith Fellowship Award granted to Bob Martin for artistic excellence from the Kentucky Arts Council, the state arts agency, which is supported by state tax dollars and federal funding from the National Endowment for the Arts. The tour of Ezell to communities on the frontlines of the fossil fuel economy is supported by the Chorus Foundation as they work together with our communities for a just transition to a fair and sustainable economy. Ezell was seeded and evolved over many years with the support of Alternate ROOTS through the Partners in Action program, an Artistic Assistance grant, fiscal sponsorship and the ongoing learning & support of an amazing network of artists.

Funders for This Place Is a Message include: The Burroughs Wellcome Foundation, Yale Environmental Humanities Program, Network of Ensemble Theatres, Yale Center for Climate Change and Health, and Connecticut Office of the Arts Artists Respond Program.