Climate change theatre

There has been a lack of art that addresses climate change, and this lack reduces the ability of people to envision possible futures and consequently make better decisions today.  This appears to be changing.

Playwright Steve Waters double play – Contingency Plan: On the Beach/Resilience focuses on science and politics of climate change.  The Observer writes Writers and artists are getting warmer

It is a striking stage experience. A group of cabinet ministers and scientific advisers, part of David Cameron’s newly elected government, gathers in a Whitehall basement to monitor a storm of unprecedented violence that is sweeping Britain. High seas, engorged by melted ice caps, threaten the country. Reports of gales, flooding and stricken communities pour in. Then, abruptly, the emergency telephone lines go dead and the lights fail. The tiny upstairs theatre at the Bush, London, is plunged into total darkness. Outside, a nation is drowning.

It is riveting stuff, though it is not climate change itself that forms the core of Steve Waters’s Resilience. It is the human and cultural reaction to it. “Who supplies us with electricity?” demands an infuriated minister in the pitch black. “EDF! Christ, I have got fucking shares in EDF.” Thus a national crisis becomes a battleground of self-interest, political ideology, buck-passing and bungled responses to scientific warnings.

According to Guardian theatre critic Michael Billington, Resilience has no theatrical rival for its emotional intensity at present and I am sure he is right. The play, with its partner work, On the Beach, is absorbing, intelligent, daringly imaginative and superbly performed. What really intrigues, however, is the fact that this is the London stage’s first serious attempt to tackle the issue of climate change and its impact on society.

3 thoughts on “Climate change theatre”

  1. This is excellent news as theatre is a great way for communicating complex problems, generating public debate and advancing a social movement for change. Many kinds of change from the localy adaptive to the nationally or globally transformative will be needed as society responds to the consequences of climate change. Lets, hope the resilience skeptics don’t cavil too much at a theatrical review which links climate change to resilience. After all, in its more prosaic form resilience thinking is simply the application of three useful models of complexity to change management.

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