Traveling show 'Where Do We Go From Here?' explores climate change

May 10—Exploring climate change, "Where Do We Go From Here?" is a theater spectacle where one man, Ross Travis, will play 15 characters. The show opens on Sunday and will be touring on an electric vehicle art trike sculpted in the form of a bark beetle through Mendocino, Lake, Colusa and Glenn Counties until May 26.

The show's concept is that a group of critters have come out of the forest in the Northern Central Valley, and they come down into the town square with their particular vantage point to mock, make fun and point out humans' relationship with nature.

In Travis's personal life, he remembers having an awareness about how human interactions with nature impact the planet.

"So I grew up in Colorado in a small town called Steamboat Springs, and so from a young age, I grew up in the mountains, so I was very rooted in nature and connected to it," Travis said. "Even during my upbringing, there's a wilderness area called Zirkel Wilderness in Colorado, and even then, there was all of this pollution coming up and affecting that area in the snow and the trees and the animals up there."

Despite that, Travis finds the animal characters fun to play. He will play a wide array of animal creatures. There will also be a Punch and Judy show in the performance where he will play a bunch of different puppets. A Punch and Judy show is a traditional puppet theater form that the show has reimagined.

With the show, one of Travis's favorite characters to play is 'The Real' Smokey Bear character.

"He's very gruff, and he's been all smoked out. He's all burnt out. He has a cigar, so he's like an old gruff comedian, à la like George Carlin," Travis said.

Fittingly, Travis said that one of the tenants of his work is playing extreme characters and fully transforming into them.

"For me, it's a really fun challenge to play with voice and body articulation and transformation, so that the audience, even though I'm one performer, sees all of these different entities as fully as possible," Travis said.

Besides Travis, other forces contributed to this show. For example, the show was funded partially by the California Arts Council through a grant called the Upstate California Creative Corps. His performance in Colusa on May 24 is sponsored by the Colusa Arts Council. The research process for the show also took about four months, Travis said.

"(Travis) and documentary filmmaker Steve Ritchie interviewed a broad spectrum of individuals from the mayor of Willows — an agricultural community and the county seat of Glenn County — to a group of indigenous women at Xa Kako Dile, a sustainable women-led farm on the Mendocino coast," according to organizers.

Travis said the work is meant to spark conversations and dialogue within the toured communities around some of the issues that they are facing in regards to climate change and how that is impacting society.

"Everything is very polarized, it seems like, and it's very right and wrong and black and white. And this work really delves into the gray area in between and is meant to spark conversations so we can all try to come to some kind of consensus," Travis said. "It's done through this combination of comedy and tragedy, so that the audience can have a really good time, but also think about some of these things in new and different ways."

The show is free and open to the public. There will be a show in Colusa on May 24 at 5 p.m. at Veterans Memorial Park, and there will be a show on May 26 at 5 p.m. in Willows at Jensen Park. The full tour schedule can be found at