“Tao Po: is anybody home?” at The Street Theatre, September 18. Reviewed by HELEN MUSA.
These scientists deliver a stark message on climate change, but have faced inertia and hostility, with some even receiving death threats.
This cross-medium collaboration of an actor, a dancer, a digital artist and a composer captures the frustration of the ordinary person helpless before an encroaching doomsday.
Dancer Alison Plevey struggled with anguish over climate change, either literally up against a wall, closing a door on the truth, or splayed on the floor as dead weight.
Actor Cara Matthews, here the relatable everyday person, searched for signs of hope, even taking the earth’s flickering pulse with a stethoscope.
In a post show Q&A director Robin Davison acknowledged that this piece is “preaching to the choir”, arguing that this has been a successful model for religion.
Co-director Ben Drysdale confirmed that the show was not aimed at changing minds, but rather at stirring the emotions of people who are already worried about climate change.
Science communication often aims to deliver a positive message, stirring practical action without overwhelming. “Moving Climates” is instead a work that explores despair, and offers scant answers.
By articulating the despair climate change activists often feel, Moving Climates validates the everyday experience of people worried about climate change.
This artistic encounter with their doubts could renew the resolve of activists. But social change is more often a marathon than a sprint, and the negativity of the show could foster futility in the people it wants to inspire.
The most hope came from the climate scientists themselves, who in clips near the end of the show sounded resolute, firm in their faith that the facts can change minds.
“Moving Climates” is obviously a passion project for Rebus Theatre, and one that has the potential to connect with the doubts, fears and hopes of a wide audience. As the creative process on this project continues, it will be interesting to see how the audience feedback from these preview performances shapes the work’s development.