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The impact of individual actions spreads out, very diffusely, across time and place. It’s hard toÂ see how thisÂ can be addressed within the classical dramaturgical model of cause and effect. It’s one reason whyno major theatreÂ has staged a play on the subject.
But there are five other reasons why theatres don’t touch climate change.
1.Â Theatres think climate change is about science and so it’s going to be extremely technical. But it isn’t. It’s about drama’s core themes: human relationships, the way we live, what we value.
2.Â Theatres are worried they’ll be accused of hypocrisy, so they are going to need to get their house in order first.Â But this is not a ‘them and us’ subject where you have to be whiter-than-white before you can talk about it. Everyone’s implicated, everyone’s involved. Theatres should be open about that.
3.Â Theatres are holding off engaging with this subject (as one theatre director told me) because they’re not sure what they think about it.But not knowing what you think about something is the perfect moment to engage with it.
4.Â Theatres imagine the plays will either have to beÂ agit-propÂ orapocalypticÂ and they don’t want to do either.Â But climate change is driven (as the great American biologist E.O. WilsonÂ has said) by our high levels of per capita consumption:Â where stuff comes from and where it goes. Climate change is about everyday life.
5.Â Many of the leading fossil fuel companies areÂ prominent sponsorsÂ of the arts.Â Oh yes, good point.
Originally Appeared in the AshdenÂ DirectoryÂ Blog as PostedÂ by Robert Butler