Putting Water Conservation on Center Stage

The Water Wise Theater Troupe performs for thousands of elementary school students. Photo courtesy of the One World One Water Center.

The Water Wise Theater Troupe performs for thousands of elementary school students. Photo courtesy of the One World One Water Center.

By Nona Shipman

On May 19, 2015 a group of Metropolitan State University of Denver students performed a special show for 1,200 sixth graders at the Denver Metro Water Festival. This was their last performance—the group had previously performed in Denver, Aurora and Boulder. With a little help from Denver Water, Aurora Water, Boulder County, and the One World One Water Center at MSU Denver, the student group collaborated to create a one-of-a-kind water conservation themed spoken word performance that educated and engaged thousands of Colorado students.

Although the student theater troupe only toured in April and May of 2015, conversations around planning this troupe started back in 2013 between Tom Cech, the director of the One World One Water Center, and Dr. Marilyn Hetzel, Chair of the MSU Denver Theater Department. Hetzel had previously created a student-led performance with Kaiser Permanente about hearing protection. The success of that project sparked the creation of a water conservation performance using MSU Denver university students that eventually became the successful “Water Wise” student theater troupe.

The Water Wise Theater Troupe learned about water through informational sessions before scripting their performance. Photo Courtesy of the One World One Water Center.

The Water Wise Theater Troupe learned about water through informational sessions before scripting their performance. Photo Courtesy of the One World One Water Center.

The university students went above and beyond what was asked of them. A special theater course was created for MSU Denver students that included a pre-interview with Hetzel, a pre-test about water, two informational sessions, a post-test, and a commitment to performances off of Auraria Campus and after the conclusion of the spring semester. The students, led by Hetzel, spent several months formulating the water conservation performance from the knowledge they had gained and even scheduled to rehearse outside of class hours. The performance focused on Colorado’s unique water system, availability of fresh water, and water wise actions that individuals can implement at home. The success of the project is, in large part, due to the outstanding work by the theater troupe and Hetzel.

The “Water Wise” theater troupe was truly a one-of-a-kind experiment that was met with praise from schools, communities, and water professionals across the Front Range. It is never too early to start learning and living a water wise lifestyle. In collaboration with Denver Water, Aurora Water, Boulder County, and the MSU Denver Theater Department, the One World One Water Center is looking forward to continuing the development of this unique experience in future semesters for Colorado students.

Nona Shipman is the manager of the One World One Water Center for Urban Water Education and Stewardship located at Metropolitan State University of Denver. She is an environmentalist and pet enthusiast. Learn more about the OWOW Center and Water Studies here.

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