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Community Conversation: Energy, Sustainability, Art, and Activism

Charlottesville, VA Live Arts Theater is excited to host a special one-time community conversation about energy, sustainability, art, and activism following the matinee performance of THE CHILDREN by Lucy Kirkwood on Sunday, May 1. Sparked by issues arising from the play, guest speakers Dr. Donal Day, Kay Leigh Ferguson, Dr. James Groves, and Susan Kruse will talk about their own work in the Charlottesville community and the intersections of art, environmental advocacy, and sustainability. The panelists will be joined by THE CHILDREN director Betsy Rudelich Tucker and Live Arts Artistic Director Susan E. Evans. Attendees will have the opportunity to join the conversation and interact with the panel of community experts. 

The community is invited to attend and participate in this free event whether or not they have seen THE CHILDREN at Live Arts. The discussion will happen at Live Arts Theater, 123 E. Water Street, in Charlottesville. Due to capacity limitations, individuals who would like to attend are encouraged to RSVP through the Live Arts events page at

About THE CHILDREN at Live Arts

Lucy Kirkwood’s THE CHILDREN is a thought-provoking eco-thriller named one of the greatest theatrical works since 2000 (The Guardian). The play runs April 15 through May 7 at Live Arts. Tickets and information can be found at 

Community Conversation Guest Speakers

Dr. Donal Day is a research professor in experimental nuclear and particle physics at UVA. He is a Fellow of the American Physical Society. He imagines a future based on renewable energy that will make atomic energy indefensible. He is a 40+ year organic gardener/farmer and a former marathoner. His activism led him to take on two (losing) political campaigns — the House of Delegates in 1982 with the Citizens’ Party and an independent run for the Virginia State Senate in 1995. 

Kay Leigh Ferguson bolted out of semi-retirement to found ARTivism Virginia in early 2017. Overeducated as a writer, often employed as an actor and as an activist, she has taught writing, theater, and organizing in more and weirder settings than can be named here. She cut her activist teeth in the early ‘80s with Women’s Action for Nuclear Disarmament and spent 20 years working with Live Arts as janitor, Board officer, fundraiser, actor, director, teacher, and founder of their education program. Only now can she see that the uniting thread is and was always artivism. Approaching her seventh decade, she is glad to finally know what she grew up to be. 

Dr. James Groves is an associate professor in the department of engineering and society at UVA, a licensed professional engineer in the Commonwealth of Virginia, and a longtime resident of Central Virginia. His university focus is upon undergraduate instruction in sustainability and design, including recent courses “Introduction to Sustainable Energy Systems” and “The Global Context of Clean Energy Materials.” In the community, he serves as a board member for CVille100, a local coalition working to advance climate action in Charlottesville-Albemarle. When not working, he enjoys the mountains in the region and is currently section-hiking the Appalachian Trail with his son.

Susan Kruse has advocated for environmental protection and justice for more than 25 years. She joined the Community Climate Collaborative (C3) as executive director in 2019. She is serving a three-year term on Virginia’s Clean Energy Advisory Board after her appointment by Governor Ralph Northam in 2019 and was named in Virginia Business Magazine’s list of “100 People to Meet in 2022” as an impact maker in Virginia. Susan resides in the City of Charlottesville with her husband Mike and their two boys, Evan and Sebastian.

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