1 year: 350 plays about climate change…
This project began on Dec 1st 2014 to coincide with the United Nations Climate Summit in Lima (COP ’20).
It will continue through December 2015, with the United Nations Climate Summit in Paris.
Think of ‘year’ as a stretchy term here.
I’ll be uploading a play to this website on most days during this time-period, with some days off, so that there’s 350 pieces on here by mid-December 2015.
the number 350~350.org
350 – the ‘safe’ amount of C02 (measure by parts per million) in the atmosphere; C02 needs to stay below 350ppm to avoid over two degrees (centigrade) of global temperature rise. We are currently over 400ppm of C02 in the atmosphere. There is some disagreement about who will be ‘safe’ with this amount of warming – hopefully some of these plays will engage with this question.
This work is inspired by the activism & organizing of the NGO, 350.org (who first brought the number 350 to my attention) but this project is not at all affiliated with 350.org.
Suzan-Lori Parks~365 Days/365 Plays
This piece also takes theatrical and political inspiration from Suzan-Lori Park’s 365 Days/365 Plays.
I directed one of these pieces (Oct 22) at Barnard College as part of the project in 2007 & have just finished working on a production of some of these plays with incarcerated women in New York.
I feel very lucky to have got to work with these plays – plays which sing and ping with possibilities, without which this piece couldn’t have happened.
I am white, cis-male, Irish, queer, 34 years old.
I am conscious that I write from a position of privilege and that I am not on the frontlines of climate change.
I definitely have reservations about writing about climate justice from this position, but I hope that this project can stand in solidarity with the rising tide of art calling for climate justice & be in solidarity with the communities most impacted by climate change.
why write 350 plays about climate change?
I’ve been thinking about climate change for a number of years now in different contexts: artistic (plays & children’s books); academic (researching climate change theatre); activist (the fossil fuel divestment campaign @Columbia University).
Even with all the art about climate change that is coming this decade, it feels like there is space for more stories about climate change & for more theatre that calls for climate justice and explores the tension between capitalism & the climate.
I started writing about climate change in 2007 but it was really in 2012 that it became a central focus for my work. A number of factors were at play – including spending time in upstate New York at the Blue Mountain Centre where I had several hikes and talks that foregrounded the urgency of climate action; watching the documentary The Island President; and working with Occupy Sandy in Red Hook after Superstorm Sandy.
[MORE TO COME!]
why all this focus on the UN Climate Summits?
I do not believe that the UN Climate Summits are the only way that humans will achieve meaningful climate action and ensure climate justice (indeed, I am quite skeptical of them).
But I do think that they’re important.
And that it is especially important for artists to put pressure on governments leading up to Paris.
So this piece stretches between two UN Summits but hopefully it also reaches beyond them…
I will add a play to this website on most days in the next year.
‘Day’ is fairly stretchy too, defined more by when I go to bed than ordered clocks.
Most of these plays will be new pieces.
Some of them will be edited versions of pieces I’ve been working on since 2007 or the trial run of this which started in Oct 2014 (I’ll say so in the notes, if so.)
I have some ideas for bigger pieces, so that some of these plays might be strung together into bigger works.
All of these are works in progress, sketches that I will continue to work on.
This is something I’m working on alongside other things (teaching, activism, research), so ‘sketch’ is a noun that feels particularly appropriate here!
I’ll be organizing some readings over the course of the year, but I also invite (and encourage!) people to perform any piece that speaks to them or could be useful in mobilizing climate action.