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Laughter is the Best Medicine for Climate Change

Laughter is the Best Medicine for Climate Change

Palomar College theater’s production “Natural Selection” is an engaging play that is sure to make audience members laugh and become informed.

The play, originally written by Eric Coble, is directed by Michael Mufson, professor of theater arts with 20 years of teaching experience at Palomar.

The play is a parody that follows the main protagonist, Henry Carson, played by Ryan Balfour, who lives in the near future where climate change has ravished most of the known world.

Balfour is a manager at a theme park, dubbed Orlando’s Culture Fiesta Theme Park, and has a family including a son, Terrance Carson played by Slan Travao, and a wife, Suzie Carson played by Danielle Starkey.

In the story, Balfour has to venture into the outside world where he captures a Native American for the amusement park, but it turns out that the man that Balfour catches isn’t fully Native American, which causes many problems for him.

The performance had strong environmental, social and political themes to it. According to Mufson, the play exhibits how Western culture expresses arrogance and denial toward many problems that correlate with these three categories. Mufson portrayed many of these themes through imagery, symbolism, dialogue, characterization, scenery and humor.

The play contained many scenes that were goofy and hysterical. According to Mufson, the reason why he directed this comedy was because it’s easier to digest social issues through humor.

“It’s much easier for an audience to accept the critiques, to embrace the critique, when it comes in the form of laughter,” Mufson said. “And we can sort of laugh at ourselves. We don’t have to take ourselves too seriously, but we can see ourselves reflected in the humor and the comedy.”

Helen Miller, who declined to mention her age, was an audience member who expressed satisfaction and admiration for the play and contents of the play.

“Everybody was very energetic, and they were clear,” Miller said. “You could understand everything and I was a little surprised, but appreciated that they were using some pretty big words.”

The play also challenged the audience, especially through symbolism and characterization, to think about today’s contemporary environment, and how the human race has affected it, specifically through global warming.

According to Mufson, Palomar has partnered with, which is an all-volunteer organization that raises awareness and advocates for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. They also paired with Citizens Climate Lobby, which lobbies local and national representatives, along with their staff, to enact policies to prevent climate change.

Although, the play had many environmental undertones to it, some of the audience members expressed that they did not pick up on them.

Gary Balfour, who declined to state his age, expressed that the show definitely entertained him and that the show was relevant to certain contemporary issues, but Balfour also explained that it did not make him more environmentally aware than he already was.

Peyton Jones, 19, who portrayed the character Mr. Neiberding, mentioned he wanted the audience to take away the relevance of certain social and environmental issues that were relevant in the play.

“I think that it is a combination of doing away with racial oppression and becoming ecologically savvy,” Jones said. “Like taking care of the environment, making sure that we don’t screw up the earth in such a way that would make us die out as a species.”

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Laughter is the Best Medicine for Climate Change