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Desert Companion

Activism: Cirque creates a watershed moment

Activism: Cirque creates a watershed momentOkay, so Southern Nevada gets its water from a drought-prone river that we share uneasily with a gaggle of other thirsty Western states — boo hoo. If you think we’ve got water problems, consider this: According to the World Health Organization, more than 1 billion people around the world don’t even have access to water that’s safe enough to drink. Perhaps it’s strangely apt, then, that Las Vegas will host a fundraiser show March 22 for a nonprofit dedicated to helping solve the world’s water woes: One Drop, launched in 2007 by Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberté.

“Water is at the core of so many issues around the globe,” says One Drop CEO Catherine Bachand. “It really is the important issue of the 21st century.”

Another water do-gooder group? A few things set One Drop apart in the world of water activism: First, a near-mania for measuring results. Visit onedrop.org and click on a project — whether it’s rehabbing wells in Nicaragua or distributing purifiers in India — and you’ll be treated to a series of progress bars that track numbers of filters distributed, gardens planted, reservoirs built, educational movies screened. “People are increasingly seeking measurable impacts with their philanthropic dollars, and they want to know that as much of their dollar is going to the field as possible,” Bachand explains. “They want to know they’re not just throwing money at a problem.” Second, this wouldn’t be a Laliberté production without a flair for the dramatic — literally. As part of its educational outreach, One Drop works with local communities to put on artistic workshops and touring shows to teach people about the preciousness and the delicacy of water. Sounds simple, but that can be an uphill battle in developing countries where a lack of education and infrastructure converge to create a perpetually polluted water supply.

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One Drop

“In India, where sanitation is the greatest issue impacting water, how do you tackle the idea of why it is better to go to the bathroom in a closed latrine versus going in the open air?” she says. The Cirque-ified solution: community theater productions that both educate and entertain. “By addressing it through theater, even making it fun, it can have a very positive effect and inspire actual change.”

[HEAR MORE: Hear critics of the proposed water pipeline on “KNPR’s State of Nevada.”]

The one-night show at the Bellagio aims to do that as well, in true Cirque style. The show, directed by veteran Cirque producer Krista Monson, is expected to be unprecedented in its urgency, resonance and emotional intensity. And, of course, wet.

“One Night for One Drop” is March 22 at the Bellagio’s “O” Theater. Tickets $150-$250,000. Info: onedrop.org

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