As previously covered by Local Profile, the multidisciplinary environmental performance The Way of the Rain — Hope for Earth will be making its American premiere in Dallas for EarthX’s half-Earth day celebration, a three-day event taking place from October 20 to 22.
The performance is the creation of Sibylle Szaggars Redford, a multimedia environmental artist who has exhibited her art throughout Europe, Monaco, Peru, Singapore, Japan and the United States. You can see her portfolio here. The Way of the Rain is her first staged art performance piece, designed in collaboration with Icelandic composer and musician David Thor Jonsson and it has led to the founding of The Way of the Rain, Inc., a non-profit organization focused on developing artistic performances designed to promote environmental public awareness.
Environmentalist, filmmaker and producer of the event, Michael Cain was kind enough to take some time from meeting and working with environmentally-conscious celebrities like Brad Pitt and Billy Zane to give Local Profile insights about the production of The Way of the Rain and his upcoming projects.
Michael Cain is the president of M3 Films, a production company focused on mission-driven storytelling founded by his wife, Melina McKinnon. He is also the co-founder of EarthX Film, a year-round film and music movement and annual festival based in Dallas.
This interview was lightly edited for clarity.
Why did M3 Films choose to produce this specific project?
Well, we look for these kinds of projects. At M3 Films we look for storytellers who, whatever the art form they work with, can find a way to engage with the largest possible audience. Artists who can look beyond the barriers that separate people and use the art of storytelling to unify people toward positive solutions.
From the moment this project entered our lives we knew it would be a perfect fit. At the time I was working at EarthX with its creator, Trammell Crow and was starting EarthX Film, when Beverly Camhe and Chip Comins reached out to us and said “It’s Earth Day anniversary and we have something unique that you should look at to bring to Dallas.” They introduced Gregory Leon Baird, the managing director of The Way of the Rain and he showed us a film version of the performance, explaining how it would work with the symphony, the spoken word and narration by Robert Redford, how it’s perfect for all ages with young people reading poetry and we were hooked. We just knew we’d have to do it.
If it hadn’t been for COVID this would’ve happened on Earth Day’s 50th anniversary in 2020.
How did the pandemic change the meaning of the performance?
I think the meaning of this project gained more weight with COVID. After spending so much time isolated from each other, we understand that we are not in control. When it comes to the planet, there are consequences to the things that we do or don’t do. The things that we do to the planet come back to us. I think that after this unifying experience we all feel the need to share communal experiences like The Way of the Rain.
Beyond the climate awareness of the piece, what’s the performance’s hopeful message?
This is a love letter to mother Earth. Especially with rain as the core concept and unifying factor of the piece, going from earth to the sky and back down, touching all of us, it really leaves you with the sense that we are on this together.
It’s also an art-centered performance, calling attention to the power of art to create environmentally conscious works that open up conversations about the need to take care of nature. This being such a collaborating piece, also sends out the message that together we can make a difference.
I saw the performance in Monaco in 2021, and I left the venue thinking, what can I do? How can I do more? And I think that’s what we are looking for. At M3 Films and EarthX we all know that the time to do something is now, and the more we can engage large groups of people who care looking beyond barriers like ideology, that’s how we’ll reach positive solutions.
What’s the future of the production beyond the Dallas presentation?
The Way of the Rain is attracting the attention of a lot of people from all around the U.S. and the world who will be flying to Dallas to take a look at this evening and see how they can make it fit with their schedule for 2023. But more than that, the most important thing this evening in Dallas is that we are working on a multicamera record of the event, extending its life even after the event has passed. We are still talking about when will the film premiere, maybe for Earth Day 2023, but there are definitely conversations to be had with PBS and other groups about showing this on TV.
Being an environmentalist and filmmaker yourself, what are other projects you are currently working on?
We are currently in postproduction for a project called Unearth, a project for which we are working with the Resilient Foundation, a new nonprofit organization that launched in America in December last year, helping storytellers tell local stories supported by NGOs on the ground. The project tells the story of the effects of mining on a community in Alaska. What I believe is interesting about this, is that we are not vilifying mining or creating demons in the story, rather we are trying to take an honest look at the issue of mining as a whole. How it is part of our culture. Look at our phones or cars, we depend on mining in many ways. At the end of the day, mining could be done correctly or incorrectly, so we are telling the story of this particular mine and its effects in this Alaskan community, without vilifying all mines.
Another project we have on development, which has grown into a bigger project still, surrounds the water crisis at Flint, Michigan, but also covers similar situations happening right now in 3000 other cities in America, like the situation in Jackson, Mississippi where the whole water system collapsed.
The Way of the Rain – Hope for Earth will premiere during the EarthX Half-Earth day celebration, on October 22 at the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center, at 2301 Flora St., Dallas. The show will run from October 21 to November 4.
Sibylle Szaggars Redford will also have a solo show, “Rain Paintings,” at the Christopher Martin Gallery at 1533 Dragon Street, Dallas, Texas 75207 on Thursday, October 20 from 6 – 8 p.m.