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S. J. Parris and Stephanie Merritt

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Climate change play 2071 aims to make data dramatic

Wednesday 5th November 2014

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How do you dramatise climate change? The obvious route, in recent films and novels, has been to imagine a future dystopia of rising sea levels and ravaged landscapes, where wars are fought over scant resources. The danger is that these sci-fi scenarios can seem so outlandish that they have the effect of distancing us from the present reality.

Theatre director Katie Mitchell confronted the subject in 2012 when she and the scientist Stephen Emmott explored the issue of overpopulation. “We spent four or five months in workshops trying all the usual theatrical forms to present the subject,” she says, “and we ended up with a load of scenes that were a bit cheesy or ridiculous, that all seemed to diminish and oversimplify and sensationalise the subject. I had to conclude that, in my opinion, using existing theatrical formats was not going to work, and the only way to do it was to get the scientist up there using a different language to talk to people – lay person’s language.” ...

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