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Play about birders explores family bonds

Birds of North America
Chris Kendall and Lindsey Pierce star in “Birds of North America” by Anna Moench. Photo by Michael Ensminger

A play about an aging father and his adult daughter who enjoy birdwatching opened in Boulder, Colorado, this past weekend and continues through November 12.

“Birds of North America,” which is being produced at the Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company, located just north of the University of Colorado campus, is a family drama with overtones about birds and climate change. The play’s story occurs over the course of a decade and shows the father and daughter, played by Lindsey Pierce and Chris Kendall, birding in their backyard while struggling to understand each other. “Their politics and personal views couldn’t be more different, but family bonds compel their annual migration,” according to a description of the play. “This gorgeously written family drama, full of humor and insight, explores how we connect with the people we just can’t fly away from.”

“I have long been interested in writing about the emotional experience of climate change,” says the playwright, Anna Moench. “Throughout my lifetime, climate change has been visible all around me. It’s not unlike the experience of watching a loved one age and die. That was my way into the material, and why my ‘climate change play’ is a family drama.”

Moench won a new-play competition with her “Birds of North America” script. The contest drew more than 100 submissions from around the country. Her past plays have been produced at theaters in New York City, Baltimore, and elsewhere. Her upcoming projects include a commission for the Japanese American National Museum and East West Players in Los Angeles and a residency with Cohesion Theatre Company in Baltimore. She was recently named one of Hollywood’s top 100 new writers on the 2016 Young and Hungry List.

Lindsey Pierce and Chris Kendall in "Birds of North America" at the Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company. Photo by Michael Ensminger
Lindsey Pierce and Chris Kendall in “Birds of North America” at the Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company. Photo by Michael Ensminger

“‘Birds of North America’ epitomizes everything BETC looks for in a successful script,” says Stephen Weitz, the theater’s producing artistic director. “Strong characterizations, powerful storytelling, and timely, relevant subject matter. The play is germane on several levels. In addition to its commentary on the environment, it is particularly insightful with regard to the current divisions in our country. This multi-generational story looks at how we communicate with people we love who hold different views, and how we move beyond those differences to embrace the parts of our relationships that truly matter.”


This weekend, October 27-29, the Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company is hosting a “Birders Weekend” with special events:

  • Friday, October 27: following the 7:30 p.m. performance, BETC will host a conversation on conservation issues with Boulder Audubon expert Steve Jones.
  • Saturday, October 28: at 9 a.m., Boulder Audubon teen naturalist Luke Pheneger will lead a birding nature walk at Sawhill and Walden Ponds.
  • Sunday, October 29: following the 2 p.m. performance, BETC will feature a conversation with Karl Brummert and Kate Hogan from the Audubon Society of Greater Denver. The talk will focus on local citizen-science opportunities and conservation efforts throughout the region.

All of these events are free and open to the public.

Tickets to the play range from $20 to $36.50.

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