“Scholarships Let Students Immerse in Research”
I’ve always been surrounded by water- the East River in my backyard, the Mediterranean in view from my uncle’s, and the Seine a train ride from my grandma’s.
Papa Beaumier planned it that way. He grew up near the Loire River in France where his parents didn’t know how to swim because their parents were terrified of strong currents. He vowed to do better. So at a young age, he taught me about the sea. We’d often swim out to the bouey together, goggles on, flippers strapped. No…it was more he would swim and I would follow. See I was terrified of the rare possibility that I would be dragged by a shark or die from the fatal brush of an Australian Jellyfish, even though neither of those creatures where indigenous in the regions we swam in. Whether they existed or not, I used him as a shock shield. Sick of being a wimp, I took up scuba diving to know exactly what was below me and understand the ecology of it.
Then somewhere along the way, theatre took precedence. I began training at Carnegie Mellon’s School of Drama to get my BFA in Musical Theatre, but I would still daydream about marine life. People say you have the theatre bug, but I also had a waterbug. (I realize how gross that sounds, but the strange nature of this animal I think accurately represents how I felt.) I started using my electives to qualm this curiosity, which eventually surmounted to a Minor in Environmental Studies. Carnegie Mellon doesn’t know, but I really used my required elective classes to pursue my art through an ecological lens. And the question came up: How can I conserve our seas and oceans through art? Ecodrama.
Introduced to me by Professor Wendy Arons, ecodrama is a genre in theatre which incorporates theatre and ecological concepts. In the summer of 2015 I traveled to Indonesia to conduct research on fluorescent proteins in corals and experiment with underwater cinematography. The following summer I directed a devised piece using Laban movement qualities and Balinese dance to depict the effects of fish-fence farming on an already fragile community in the Pacific off of Hoga Island. The piece examines our use of water and misconceptions that the seas “will always provide”, when it is a finite resource. Below are pictures of our process. In the following months the piece, a collaboration with various students from CMU, won an award for “Artistic Excellence” and “Environmental Studies” at the Meeting of the Minds Symposium at Carnegie Mellon.