October 26, 2018 | Katherine Adams
Natalie Garcia is a senior environmental management student who at first, did not have any interest in taking Storytelling, a class in University of Houston-Clear Lakes College of Human Sciences and Humanities taught by Lecturer in Communication Andrea Baldwin. It turned out to be a transformative experience. So much so, said Garcia, that she has written a one-woman show titled, “HE(A)R,” to be presented in the Art Gallery on Nov. 1 and 2 at 8 p.m.
“I’m still an environmental management major and I’m not going to change that. But as a result of Dr. Baldwin’s class, and after attending the Petit Jean Performance Festival in Morrilton, Ark., my whole life plan shifted,” Garcia said. “I wouldn’t be where I am without Dr. Baldwin.”
“Storytelling does more than just provide an elective or course that satisfies a communication degree,” Baldwin said. “This class teaches empathy of cultures, others and the self. Regardless of what you do beyond your time in college, all students can benefit from a closer examination of these aspects.”
Baldwin added that the class teaches students what it means to think beyond themselves to create aesthetic work, solo or in a group. “The ability to practice ‘communitas,’ or the feeling of building community to learn from each other, makes students who take storytelling not only good communicators, but great citizens of the world,” she said.
The show, Garcia explained, combines her love for the environment with performance. “It’s interesting to tackle environmentalism as an issue through performance,” she said. “My monologue comes from an excerpt of a reading I did in (Associate Professor of Environmental Management) Lisa Gossett’s class. I was reading about environmental ethics and there was a section about ecofeminism. I was intrigued by this and never considered how the two could intersect.”
She said she came up with the name for the show as a play on words. “Throughout the show I use the title to talk about ‘here’ as in a place, ‘hear’ as in how we communicate, and ‘her’ to speak specifically about women and ecofeminism,” she said.
Garcia will recreate herself in the persona of Mother Nature, and use her as a mode of communicating people’s complicated relationships with other women, their own mothers, and the environment. “How can you treat the environment with respect if you mistreat women?” Garcia said.
Her costume consists of a moss jacket that she created, with a skirt woven together from plastic bags. “I hate them but I thought it would be interesting and ironic to make art out of them,” she said.
Her 40-minute monologue isn’t for a class, nor for a grade. “Dr. Baldwin is directing it and we’ve worked together on it for three or four months,” she said. “The goal of the show is, ‘How can I do better and be better?’ I want people to make connections between their treatment of women and their treatment of the earth.”
For more information about the Art Gallery and upcoming events, visit www.uhcl.edu/art-gallery.