Performance highlights climate change effects

MATTHEW HENDRY

A group of Griffith University drama students are preparing to perform a play that highlights the effects of climate change.

Griffith University drama students

Griffith University drama students create an artistic representation of what society could look like after it is destroyed by climate change. Photo: Matthew Hendry

 

The untitled performance, which takes place at the M10 theatre at Griffith University’s Mount Gravatt Campus on Wednesday October 9 at 6pm, aims to provide audiences with a more personalised account of the effects of climate change.

The students hope to display a better understanding of the issue, using more personal takes on climate change by using examples from their own experiences.

Each student will perform a monologue of their own writing during the play, which is based on their own personal experience with climate change.

It is this more personal touch that has made the play’s facilitator, Dr Linda Hassall, excited about the performance.

“I think I’m taking a backseat and letting the performers take on the directorial responsibility themselves, because I think that it’s important that they work out what they want to say, and how they want to say it,” Dr Hassall said.

“I think that’s really important, and I offer them techniques in refining what they’re already doing, but I actually think it’s more of a collaborative process than a director-led process,” she said.

“And I think in terms of their learning in this particular field, that it’s important they take responsibility for, like I said, how they actually provoke those messages themselves.”

Drama student Sam Malone said it was a great experience to be able to perform scenes that he had written.

“I think it’s great that I’ve been able to write pieces that have been incorporated into this performance,” Mr Malone said.

He said he had written two poems that had been worked into separate scenes, and said he felt the writing reflected himself as well as what life might be like if climate change brought about an apocalypse.

“I enjoyed writing the ‘Prawn’ and ‘Skin’ scenes because they are both a part of me personally and physically,” Mr Malone said.

“But also they are important on an eco-critical level,” he said.

Sam Malone’s ‘Prawn’ scene

Sam Malone’s ‘Prawn’ scene draws on memories of eating prawns with his family, but is performed in an apocalyptic world destroyed by climate change. Photo: Jamie Tomic

 

Dr Hassall said performance and art were important in helping to spread the facts about climate change.

“The theatre experience is very different to understanding what’s happening with climate change, more than just by being told scientific facts,” she said.

“I think what makes theatre unique in being able to spread messages is that it has an inherent ability to create a relationship with an audience, and also to stimulate an emotional response in an audience, as opposed to just giving the facts.”

Dr Hassall said it was important for the performers in the show to engage with both the facts and their personal experiences with climate change, as they continued to develop their skills as actors.

Mr Malone agreed, and said he was excited to have the opportunity to voice his concerns through the original pieces that had been incorporated into the play.

“Climate change is a lot more complex and quite difficult to solve than I originally thought,” he said.

“For me, it’s how this message of climate change is told.”

“I think through our performance, we are presenting this message in a new and enlightened manner, which I find to be quite exciting.”

Dr Hassall said it was important for the actors to understand climate change as they experienced it.

“I’d like to think they’re more engaging with the topic and the theme from artistic and theatrical perspectives, but to do that they have to understand where the whole climate situation is at, as they are experiencing it and as, perhaps, from a hypothetical perspective, generations after us will experience it,” she said.

“I think that this sort of cause is more about experiential-based learning as opposed to instructional learning, and the performers do a lot of the creation and development of the work in their rehearsal time, so it’s sort of self-directed learning too, coming from the provocations that I give them.”

Dr Linda Hassall

Dr Linda Hassall (left) is more of a facilitator than a director, refining scenes that the actors themselves have written based on climate change facts. Photo: Jamie Tomic

 

Dr Hassall said each audience member should have a different response to the play, based on each individual’s different perspectives of art.

“You can never predict how your audience is going to respond to any show, let alone a show like this,” she said.

“I guess that what we are really aiming for in creating a presentation such as this, is just to ask people to think about climate from their own individual perspectives, and some of the audience may disagree with what you’re doing entirely, but that’s entirely up to them as well.”

Mr Malone said he thought watching the play could be a good learning experience for audience members.

“I think theatre is a great form for learning about climate change, because it’s an intimate medium,” he said.

“The audience is directly in front of the performance.”

“Whereas if you are watching a program on TV talking about climate change, then the relationship between the audience and broadcaster is distant and less effective on an emotional level.”

Dr Hassall said it was important to continue the discussion about climate change.

“I think it’s important, I mean, we’re at the tipping point [in regards to climate change], and there’s been a lot of discussion, scholarly, artistic, cultural discussion, about how we are at the tipping point,” Dr Hassall said.

“If we don’t start to do something now, it is going to be too late, which means unfortunately your children or grandchildren aren’t going to be able to swim in the oceans,” she said.

“We are going to have to change the way we produce food, things will change if something isn’t done now, so generating awareness and/or education about those specific facts or experiences, I think, is a positive thing.”

The performance will be held on Wednesday, October 9, at 6pm in the M10 theatre at Griffith University’s Mount Gravatt Campus.

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