Children, as well as adults, will be in for an environmental treat when “The Great Mountain” takes the Eisenhower Auditorium stage at 2 p.m. on Sunday.
The performance, presented by Red Sky Performance based in Toronto, tells the tale of a young girl named Nuna, who inherits the ability to hear the cries, literally, of nature through its spirits and has the chance to answer them.
The story is adapted from an aboriginal story titled “Jumping Mouse ” and explores young people’s impact on environmental issues and how they can think about them through a fun adventure story.
The production features three actors, each who play multiple roles, which was both a challenge and a joy for Director Alan Dilworth, he said.
An aspect of the adventure story that is unusual is that its protagonist is a strong-willed young girl, Editorial Manager of the Center for the Performing Arts John Mark Rafacz said. He said it is not common for adventure stories to have a girl in its lead part, adding it is a nice change.
Its theme, however, is not unusual.
“It touches on the themes of climate change that are obviously very much in the news,” Rafacz said.
He said the show, which only lasts about an hour, will be enjoyable to older audience members despite it being geared toward a younger crowd because of the environmental themes it touches on.
“I think the themes of the play affect all of us,” he said. “We all live on this planet we all share it. You’re never too young to be thinking about that and have a positive effect on that.”
The idea of being young and still being able to make an impact on larger issues is something Dilworth fully supports.
“It’s about young people — who they are and becoming powerful and learning to listen to themselves,” he said.
He said it is important for young people to have a voice and exercise that voice, a value the play truly harnesses through its lead character.
Dilworth said the play has a lot to do with courage and one’s relationship with nature. Supported by a set painted with mountains and full of quick costume changes, the play leaves a lot of room for the imagination, Dilworth said.
“It’s it the idea of learning who you are and, in the end, what you are and what you are connected to,” he said.
Dilworth said the production is fun and beautifully created and also “lifts people’s hearts,” something he says the theater does anyway.
He worked closely with the choreographers and costume designers to make sure the play fit his vision, as he had worked with the production previously. He said the costumes have a great sense of humor.
He said going through the story and stripping what was unnecessary to truly find what the story needs was a great joy for him.
Dilworth said in order to play the many characters correctly, the actors needed to be open and sensitive to culture, as well as have integrity to deal with aboriginal culture the way the play does.
Because the performance is as theatrical as it is eco-friendly and nature-based, there will be many nature-themed activities prior to the show. “Kids Connection” will begin an hour before the show and will feature various learning opportunities, including nature-themed books, as well as art activities.
One participant in the activity is Science-U at Penn State . It will feature many science activities for the younger audience to participate in, such as an experiment involving an oil spill the kids will be able to do themselves, Director Michael Zeman said.
Zeman said Science-U has participated in events like this, including for a performance last year.
“The idea was to connect disciplines between the arts and the sciences and talk about how we use art to teach different disciplines,” he said.
He said the ecological theme this year drew them to participate again. He said the goal is to raise awareness of how humans, even children, impact the environment and how to become more responsible citizens.
“I hope the kids understand that they have transformative power,” he said. “They can be courageous scientists every day.”
Tickets for the event are $8 for students and $15 for adults.