Previously at the ICA - Events

The Climate for Theatre

8 Jul 2010

As theatre makers struggle to create the iconic work about climate change, should they borrow the models of local activism practiced by the anti-globalisation movement? Can theatre that inspires change by virtue of its rootedness in real life concerns also connect and inspire on an international stage? Chaired by Chris Smith, previously secretary of State for Culture and now chairman of the Environment Agency, and with speakers including John Jordan, artist and activist and author of We Are Everywhere, this debate examines theatre makers’ attitudes to environmental concerns. Why, unlike AIDS, the conflict between Israel and Palestine or even the global financial crisis, has climate change not inspired a potentially attitude-shifting piece of theatre? Films and literature have tackled the subject through fiction and polemic; where is the theatrical equivalent?

But is there actually a need for a catalyst, a great inspirational moment, or should we just continue at a local level, building from the grassroots up and up? As climate change activists deal with the failure of the Copenhagen talks last year, there is a move away from global mobilisation towards specific and local targets such as particular fossil-fuel power plants or mines, focusing more on local grassroots campaigns, “to start from the bottom” as the Rising Tide spokesman puts it. Should theatre makers take a leaf from the activists’ book and think local? As a subject that touches the daily business of life, is it more appropriate that theatre that addresses climate change and the need for action should itself be created in a local and practical context, intimately connected to its audience or participants’ daily life?

Held in association with Artsadmin, This is the third of four LIFT Debates that form part of LIFT Club at the ICA. These debates aim to explore our new relationship with theatre in the company of international theatre makers, critics and commentators.

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