Arctic Requiem celebrates work, spirit of local hero

Oct 26

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The cast of BootStrap Theater Foundation’s world-premiere play Arctic Requiem: The Story of Luke Cole and Kivalina includes (from left) Gendell Hernández as Raven and Cathleen Riddley, Michael Torres, Lynne Soffer and Lawrence Radecker as villagers. The production, about the first climate change refugees in the United States, runs through Nov 15 at Z Below Theater. Below: Damon K. Sperber (left) plays the late San Francisco environmental lawyer Luke Cole and Hernández is Raven. Photos by Vicky Victoria

A very personal play, BootStrap Theater Foundation’s Arctic Requiem: The Story of Luke Cole and Kivalina is both educational and emotional. You’ll learn more about Native Alaskan Inupiat people than you ever knew, and you’ll come to care about and feel the tragic loss of Luke Cole the San Francisco environmental lawyer whose good work in the world was ended by a tragic auto accident in Uganda in 2009.

I reviewed Arctic Requiem’s world premiere at Z Below for the San Francisco Chronicle. Here’s an excerpt.

There’s definitely a conventional story here about the do-gooder lawyer from the San Francisco nonprofit (the Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment) and how he went to Alaska and helped a Native Alaskan Inupiat village fight against water pollution from the world’s largest zinc mine. But the show’s creators, Sharmon J. Hilfinger, who wrote the script, and Joan McMillen, who composed the music, opt for something more interesting and much more theatrical.
Woven through the straightforward account of how Cole worked to gain the trust of the villagers and fought passionately for the survival of their way of life is a more spiritual account of the Inupiat way of life that is heightened by powerfully emotional music played by McMillen on piano and Helen Newby on cello.

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Read the full review here.

FOR MORE INFORMATION
Sharmon J. Hilfinger and Joan McMillen’s Arctic Requiem: The Story of Luke Cole and Kivalina continues through Nov. 15 at Z Below Theater, 470 Florida St., San Francisco. Tickets are $30-$45. Call 866-811-4111 or visit www.zspace.org.

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