Emission - developmental reading @ A.R.T.-NY

April 8, 2015
520 8th Avenue, 3rd Floor
New York, NY 10018,
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Gathering some great actors and the director I've been working with -- Kristin Hoffman, the founding artistic director of Wide Eyed Productions -- to get a last look at Emission, before heading toward production.

Svetlana is a 58 year-old environmental scientist and refugee from Serbia who has invented a very simple manner of helping solve the issue of rising CO2 emissions: make them visible.  Her simple, harmless and very inexpensive additive, which when put in gasoline will make all CO2 emissions visible as a sickly gray smoke.

The Senator, ever the politician, wonders whether the additive will help save the world, or simply kill his chances at re-election.  He invents an emission-less prototype – a large tricycle – and assures that no inventor can outthink a politician.  Ever.

Amy, the legislative aid to the State Senator is trying to muscle a bill (which would force New York State gas stations to use the additive) through committee.  However, an  evil lobbyist Heather stands in the way.  Early in the play, they meet warily to gauge each other’s power, but end up in a love clench beneath a coffee table as a climate change-induced storm rages outside.

Heather catches up with Svetlana and assures that her additive will kill hundreds of jobs around the country by raising the cost of gasoline a few tenths of a cent per gallon.  She also contends that people just don’t want to see all of that dirt. 

We learn of Amy’s passion-less marriage to Sam, a CPA, and the complicated personal history of Heather.  Heather purrs that everything is exactly as it should be, and the coming climate disaster is nothing but another natural disaster, much like the meteor in the Yucatan or the great volcano, both of which caused extinction events of up to 95% of the world’s species.  We (humans) must prepare for the coming Armageddon, which is natural, not attempt to stop it.

Heather goes into therapy, explains herself to her therapist and then is overcome by her libidinal urges, demanding that the doctor fuck her “like an animal.” “I only have a master’s degree,” he replies.  But it will have to do.

In the end, all three decide on their own to go visit the State Senator, with their own personal goals.  One by one they filter into the elevator to go to her fourth floor office and wait until the morning, when the senator will arrive for the new day’s work.

The elevator will not move.  They stand uncomfortably, thrown together in some liminal space and stuck in a time that will not advance.

Then Heather undertakes the only action that one such as her can.

The whole play takes place in the middle of some interminable night.